August 13, 2021 at 9:16 am #35292
The following video describes another rebirth account. It is significant in two ways.
– It is reported by an American child.
– It is about her life in Egypt in the times of Pharaohs and she helped archeologists discover previously unknown locations of significance.
August 14, 2021 at 1:16 pm #35299cubibobiParticipant
Fascinating video. From what we know about bhava and jati, we can clearly see that a human bhava can be thousands of years, with many jati within it.
After her “dead” experience, she emerged practically Egyptian. Is this because during that experience anusaya from the life in Egypt surfaced and dominated the rest of her present life?
Although I have no doubt about rebirths, I sometimes think that it must be “cool” to really recall a past life, but now I suppose that recalling a past life is not without risks. What if we recall a past life, and then get consumed by it to the point we stop learning Buddha Dhamma for the rest of this life?
August 14, 2021 at 4:05 pm #35301
“After her “dead” experience, she emerged practically Egyptian. Is this because during that experience anusaya from the life in Egypt surfaced and dominated the rest of her present life?”
Her head injury (accident) may have triggered something in her brain circuit to be able to recall the past.
As I have explained in the post, “Brain – Interface between Mind and Body” brain plays a huge role in getting the sensory inputs to the manomaya kaya (gandhabba).
– For example, visuals coming through the eyes are processed by the batin and sent to the cakkhu pasada rupa in the gandhabba.
– In the same way, “namagotta” or memories come in through the “mana indriya” in the brain and are passed on to the hadaya vatthu. Of course, science has not identified the mana indriya.
– However, we have some clues about the location of the mana indriya from the studies discussed in the post, “Patient H.M. – Different Roles of Brain in Memory”
Also, Jill Price started recalling detailed memories in the current life only after she got to a certain age: “Recent Evidence for Unbroken Memory Records (HSAM)”
– It is possible that something in her brain changed too.
August 16, 2021 at 11:49 am #35334
Very interesting. The teachings of the Buddha are very detailed and complex. I wonder if the followers of the Vedic system introduced the concept of a soul to present a easy to understand
theory of rebirth and continuation of life or if such a concept was already existing during the Buddha’s time.
It is interesting to note that the teaching of Adi Shankara explains liberation as merging into
brahman, after which one ceases to exist. He explains his concept of liberations as ‘Moksha’ where one experiences unlimited bliss and becomes one with Brahman and cease to exist. He teaches that the world is an illusion and there is no concept of eternal God.
Then Ramanuja after about 500 years later, introduced the concept of eternal existence and bliss in a spiritual world which is a lot more appealing to the common man. It is similar to Christianity where one eternally serve God.
I wonder if spiritual teaching were being modified and simplified to make it more appealing to attract more followers.
Also the teachers who certainly were great beings did what was essential for the good of humanity and their goal was to encourage people to live a moral life. Teachings were modified according to time and circumstances.
There is a theory that great teachers have come from immemorial in history to teach what was
relevant according to time and circumstances in different parts of the world.
August 16, 2021 at 7:12 pm #35339
I have discussed this issue in, “Wrong View of Creationism (and Eternal Future Life) – Part 1”
If my presentation of Vedic/Hindu concepts is not accurate, you can point them out.
– As I understand Vedic/Hindu concept is a permanent atman that goes from life to life until the merge with Maha Brahma takes place.
– But the Buddha pointed that the realm of Maha Brahma is not permanent. Even the Maha Brahma will be born in a lower realm after that lifetime expires.
August 16, 2021 at 10:28 pm #35343
Sir, my main quest is to understand if the concept of a soul was prevalent during the time of the
Buddha and does the Mahayana sect of Buddhism believe in the concept of the soul? Did the Buddha
ever discuss the subject matter?
Since it is obvious that we are not the body or the mind, what are we? All the vedic sects have
a simple answer that we are individual souls (that is the only things they agree in common, other
than that, it is full of contradictions.) Did the Buddha give a simplistic answer to who we are, since we are not the body or the mind?
I am not interested to discuss Brahmaloka, parabrahman ect, I want to learn the Buddha’s teachings. I apologize for bringing up the subject.
There is a difference between Brahmaloka which is the residence of Lord Brahma and Parabrahman, if you are interested you can google it, you will get the details. The dualistic school and monistic school have different concepts of the Parabrahman. The different sects of vedic schools have lot of contradictions.
Fortunately in Buddhism there is only some minor differences, the fundamentals are the same.
I am glad that you have made the Buddha’s teachings available to the world, if possible please
guide me as to which suttas I need to study to get a better understanding.
Thankyou again for creating this site.
August 17, 2021 at 7:56 am #35346
Raj asked: “my main quest is to understand if the concept of a soul was prevalent during the time of the Buddha”
– Yes. It was the concept of an “atman” (or “āthma“). You stated that you are familiar with Vedic teachings. What is the concept of an “atman” as you understand?
Once you answer that question, I will try to answer your other questions. I just need to figure out how to answer them so that you will be able to understand.
August 18, 2021 at 3:18 pm #35349
The statement below is what I am familiar with but that is not my belief. I used to believe or
accepted it because that I what I was told by the popular spiritual teachers. But now I am skeptical and want to understand the Buddha’s viewpoint. In the past, I was cautioned that the Buddha should be respected but not to accept his teachings, he was supposedly an incarnation of
God who preached against vedic teachings to confuse people. Only after listening to the talks by Buddhist monks and studying some suttas I realized what I was told was all nonsense, it was a ploy to keep their followers from the teachings of the Buddha. Why would God preach for 40 years to confuse people, it is ridiculous, and whoever reads the suttas can immediately see that ploy.
One of the popular Vedic perspective (there are several variations) is as follows:
The soul is caged in the body consisting of the 5 gross elements (earth, water, fire, air ether).
The mind, intelligence and ego are subtle elements. After death, the souls transmigrates to the
next body in the subtle vehicle of mind, intelligence and ego.
Liberation is the state where one is freed from bondage and ego is given up (monistic schools) and one merges and become one with Parabrahman which is a state of unlimited joy, or the ego is purified (dualistic schools) and one exists eternally and serves God.
In the monistic school individual identity is given up and one ceases to exist, in the dualistic
school, the identity is maintained as an eternal servant of God.
August 18, 2021 at 3:57 pm #35351
According to vedic scholars, the soul is 1/10000th the size of the tip of one’s hair.
It cannot be cut, burnt or destroyed.
Birth and death is compared to ones changing one’s outfit. One keeps on changing ones dress till one can get free from samsara, countless journey between upper, lower and middle planetary systems in the universe. Human birth is ideal for liberation (very similar to the Buddha’s teachings)
When one dies the soul leaves the body through one of the nine orifices of the body, but in the case of a successful yogi it leaves from the top of the head and attains liberation.
August 18, 2021 at 8:22 pm #35354
Thank you, Raj, for your description.
So, as you wrote, “According to vedic scholars, the soul is 1/10000th the size of the tip of one’s hair. It cannot be cut, burnt or destroyed.” That means it is permanent.
That is similar to the concept of an eternal (permanent) soul in Christianity, Islam, etc. Of course, the details are different.
– As you wrote, in Vedic teachings, “Liberation is the state where one is freed from bondage and ego is given up (monistic schools) and one merges and become one with Parabrahman which is a state of unlimited joy, or the ego is purified (dualistic schools) and one exists eternally and serves God. In the monistic school individual identity is given up and one ceases to exist, in the dualistic school, the identity is maintained as an eternal servant of God.”
I was not aware of this part of your statement: “.. the soul is 1/10000th the size of the tip of one’s hair.”
– Anyway, the point is that Vedic teachings imply a soul that is permanent.
The difference in Buddhism is that there is nothing permanent that goes from life to life.
– There is an “entity” that would be even smaller than “1/10000th the size of the tip of one’s hair” created by kammic energy when a new existence is grasped. That is gandhabba in Buddha Dhamma.
– And that gandhabba is NOT permanent. If one goes from a human to animal existence, that gandhabba will change. That change happens according to Paticca Samuppada.
– The Buddha taught that suffering cannot be stopped until that process of transitioning from one gandhabba state to another is stopped. That is Nibbana.
That is of course only a summary. I don’t think I can explain any further in these exchanges. My recommendation would be to read the posts in the following link to understand how new existences arise due to one’s own actions:
“Paṭicca Samuppāda in Plain English“
August 18, 2021 at 10:33 pm #35357
Thank you, Lalji, for your explanation and I sincerely appreciate your help.
I have another question regarding this topic.
The Buddha had encountered Dipankara Buddha thousands of eons ago. After that as a Boddhisatta, he took many forms (including many animal forms, as per Jataka tales), and on the night of his enlightenment he could see all these forms.
So there was a continuity, it was the same individual, from the time he saw Dipankara Buddha, till the time he got enlightened under the Bodhi tree.
What was it which remained same throughout that period?
Is it the same Gandhabba undergoing slight modifications but still the same.
In the vedic school, there is something called (achintya bedhaabedha) simultaneously one and different, in other words, an inconceivable phenomenon.
August 19, 2021 at 12:24 am #35360DanielStParticipant
“So there was a continuity, it was the same individual, from the time he saw Dipankara Buddha, till the time he got enlightened under the Bodhi tree.
What was it which remained same throughout that period?
Is it the same Gandhabba undergoing slight modifications but still the same.”
Consider a river. A river consists of a flow of water particles, that are in constant motion. The water level on one spot might differ from the water level on another spot, as well as changing at every spot all the time.
That might be an analogy of the “energy flux” that makes up a Gandhabba. The qualities of that flux depend on condition, just in the same way that the water level on one spot of the river depends on conditions (how much it rained, whether there are dams build along the river, time of the year).
So in one way, there was nothing the same between the phenomena we call “the Bodhisatta” at the time he met Buddha Dipankara and when he himself became a Buddha. But any lifestream, through the thoughts and abhisankharas created, conditions it’s future shape and qualities.
A river that was once a big river can become just a small dirty flow of water, if the appropriate conditions start appearing. In the case of a river, the nature or man can make these appear by using extensive amoubts of water, chemical factories, and so on.
In the case of the lifestream, the current phenomena can condition future phenomena. Whatever habits and intentions “you” cultivate will grow, and that is how the Bodhisatta grew in the journey of co pleting his qualities.
But as it is in the case of the river, where is the “river” itself? It is only a name for a number of causally interconnected phenomena, which themselves are arising because of causes and conditions being present, and generating new upfollowing causes for future phenomena.
A river is not the same feom one moment to the next, but it is also not “something entirely new”.
That would be my contribution to your question. I hope, it can be helpful.
August 19, 2021 at 7:16 am #35364
Daniel’s description is good. The following post also describes how a “lifestream” evolves without a “soul.”
“What Reincarnates? – Concept of a Lifestream”
Raj wrote: “The Buddha had encountered Dipankara Buddha thousands of eons ago. After that as a Boddhisatta, he took many forms (including many animal forms, as per Jataka tales), and on the night of his enlightenment he could see all these forms. So there was a continuity, it was the same individual, from the time he saw Dipankara Buddha, till the time he got enlightened under the Bodhi tree. What was it which remained same throughout that period?”
– NOTHING remained the same during that whole period.
– Each subsequent life arose based on the causes accumulated in the past AND conditions prevailing at the moment of grasping a new existence. This is what is explained in Paticca Samuppada, and this is hard to comprehend issue for many people.
Raj asked: “Is it the same Gandhabba undergoing slight modifications but still the same.”
– It is NOT the same gandhabba. Each time a new existence (human, Deva, animal, hell-being, etc) a BRAND NEW gandhabba is created by kammic energy.
– This is essentially the difference between Vedi teachings and Buddha Dhamma.
– By the way, Vedic teachings originated with Buddha Kassapa who lived before Buddha Gotama. That is why there are some similarities. Vedas took the concept of gandhabba and turned it into an “indestructible atman/soul”. I have discussed this briefly in some posts. See, for example, #8 in “Arōgyā Paramā Lābhā..”
I know it is very hard to get rid of the perception of a “me”. In fact, even a Sotapanna has that PERCEPTION, but a Sotapanna has seen that there is NOTHING that migrates through adjacent lives. The perception of a “me” goes away only at the Anagami stage. Then there is still a trace of “me” left and that goes away completely at the Arahant stage.
August 20, 2021 at 12:26 am #35366AniduanParticipant
Just to add to Lal and DanielSt’s explanation.
This Bhante talks about the concept of Atman and they made a video animation to explain it.
You can watch the video from time stamp 3:08:45
August 20, 2021 at 6:57 am #35368
Thank you, Aniduan.
Yes. That clip gives the basic idea. Nicely done!
Just to add a bit more. When a seed from a tree gives rise to a new one that second tree is not the same as the old one. But it would not have arisen without the first tree.
– That is, of course, a crude analogy.
August 20, 2021 at 11:18 am #35370
Thank you to Lalji, DanielSt, Aniduan and Cubibobi,
Looks like I am almost there. The seed and tree analogy helped further. I have a son, and I can see that his parents, grandparents, and all our combined karmas contributed to his cause of existence. His grand parents are gone, I will be gone soon and he will be there, and I can clearly see that we are not the same, and hopefully after listening to the Bhante it will be absolutely clear.
Best wishes to all,
August 20, 2021 at 8:43 pm #35375
I am glad that you are getting the basic idea.
I just want to say a word about your statement: “The seed and tree analogy helped further. I have a son, and I can see that his parents, grandparents, and all our combined karmas contributed to his cause of existence.”
That last part is not quite correct. That may be because you may have gotten a somewhat wrong impression from my “tree analogy.”
In the case of your son, his existence is based MOSTLY on his own kamma.
– You provided the “chemical base” (zygote) for your son’s gandhabba to build a new human body.
– In the same way, your parents provided the chemical base for your gandhabba to build a new human body.
(The zygote’s role is explained in the post, “Buddhist Explanations of Conception, Abortion, and Contraception“)
Now, when you are reborn a human again (assuming that your “human gandhabba” has more kammic energy left) another set of parents will provide the chemical base (zygote) to build a new human body.
– But at the end of the human bhava, you will transition into a different bhava, say a Deva bhava. That is when your gandhabba will make a “bigger transition.” That new Deva is not the same as the human gandhabba but without the continuation of the “human gandhabba lifestream” that Deva would not be born. That is what I tried to explain with the “tree analogy.”
– Sometimes the analogies are not as good as we hope. My apologies if it led to a misunderstanding.
August 21, 2021 at 12:36 pm #35376
Thank you Sir,
Does the gandhabba undergo constant change from the time of conception till the death of the body
or does the change happen only at the time of death?
You mentioned karmic energy, is the energy cumulatively formed for the next body, to take it to the
next destination (animal, human, deva and other forms) ?
August 21, 2021 at 8:45 pm #35378
Question: “Does the gandhabba undergo a constant change from the time of conception till the death of the body
or does the change happen only at the time of death?”
Gandhabba can undergo change both while inside a physical body or while outside (while waiting for a womb).
– Drastic changes in gandhabba can happen while inside a physical body (like us) IF we attain stages of Nibbana. If one attains the Sotapanna stage, then that gandhabba will never be born an animal or one of the lowest realms (apayas). Of course, the most drastic change would be to become an Arahant.
Question: “You mentioned karmic energy, is the energy cumulatively formed for the next body, to take it to the next destination (animal, human, deva, and other forms)?”
For humans, kammic energy is acquired at any time, especially while in a physical body. Each of us has done many, many good and bad kamma in our past lives. All those can potentially bring in kammma vipaka.
– Of course, the strongest ones have the priority to bring vipaka.
– For example, if someone kills one of the parents, that kamma will lead to a birth in an apaya when that person dies. It will not wait to bring vipaka in a future life, because it is one of the strongest bad kammas (anantariya kamma).
August 22, 2021 at 11:58 pm #35396
Does cravings and attachments inhibit the change and progress of a gandhabba?
When one is on a spiritual path, their personality entirely changes as they progress, and there are some who don’t change much during their entire life. Is it the gandhabba which is changing and causing the external changes in one’s personality?
There are stories where people are born in the same family, changing roles and causing
problems to those who had harmed them in their previous lives.
When I mentioned parents karmas, it is believed that generally good children are born to pious parents and vice versa.
August 23, 2021 at 6:59 am #35397
We are all gandhabbas with physical bodies.
– So, we can taste food, smell odors, and touch things (sexual activities included).
A gandhabba without a physical body (while waiting to get into a womb) is human too.
– It just does not have a physical body that can do the above three things. Thus it does not generate kaya sankhara.
– But all cravings and attachments are there.
– It can still cultivate vaci sankhara and drastically change its personality (gati).
– Vaci sankhara generation does not require “speaking”, i.e., it does not require a physical body. That gandhabba can talk to itself and still generate vaci sankhara. See the post, “Correct Meaning of Vacī Sankhāra“
August 24, 2021 at 11:11 am #35406
Sir, thank you for the clarification and the links.
We and all the creatures are made up of the five khandas, how many khandas does a gandhabba have while it does not have a physical body?
We have gross body, sensation, perception, the volition to react and consciousness, does a gandhabba
have any of these?
August 24, 2021 at 11:36 am #35409
Of course, gandhabba has the five aggregates.
As I wrote above, we are all gandhabbas inside “physical shells”.
– The physical body is inert (lifeless) when the gandhabba comes out.
– Try to think logically. How do people who have “out-of-body experiences” see and hear OUTSIDE the physical body. At that time they have only the “gandhabba kaya” or the “manomaya kaya”.
See, “Mental Body Versus the Physical Body“
August 24, 2021 at 11:55 am #35411
We are nama and rupa plus the other four. So the gandhabba without a body does not have rupa (a form) and waits to get the next rupa.
Sorry, I am making a slow and gradual transition from vedic teachings to the Buddha’s teachings!
The concept is similar, except the soul according to them is unchangeable, whereas the Buddha says it is constantly undergoing change.
Thank you for your patience!
August 24, 2021 at 5:01 pm #35416cubibobiParticipant
A Gandhabba also has rupa, but not such gross or dense rupa as this physical body. Lal explained on the articles that a Gandhabba always, at least, has the kammaja kaya (hadaya vatthu where the consciousness arised, as well as 5 sense-base pasada rupa). Especially if it leaves a body after death, it usually takes a small amount of matter related to the “image and form” of the deceased body with it, as far as I understand. So, it has matter and form, but that form is not visible to us with our physical eyes (while we are embodied).
Cubibobi and Daniel are quite right.
Gandhabba has a set of suddhatthaka, “smallest amounts of matter” in Buddha Dhamma.
– That is what cubibobi (Lang) referred to as “Rūpa as things made up of the 4 great elements can be considered “material”.
Gandhabba is also a living being, specifically human.
– So, it has a rupakkhandha that includes all past rupa that it has ever experienced in the rebirth process. It also has expectations of experiencing certain rupa in the future, and those are also included in rupakkhandha. At a given moment, it may be experiencing some rupa, and those are also included. That is why rupakkhandha includes all past, future, and present rupa.
– The post that Lang (cubibobi) referred to above explains all this. But if one does not make an effort to read, and think and spend some time on this critical issue, one may miss out on other concepts that REQUIRE this clarification.
Same clarification applies to vedanakkhandha, sannakkhandha, sankharakkhandha, and vinnanakkhandha. See, “The Five Aggregates (Pañcakkhandha)”
Of course, we cannot recall ALL that is in the five aggregates (rupakkhandha, vedanakkhandha, sannakkhandha, sankharakkhandha, and vinnanakkhandha).
– Most people cannot recall some events that happened even yesterday. But they may recall significant events that happened years ago, etc.
– Some children can recall some events in their previous life with a human body.
– Some yogis with abhinna powers may be able to recall several or even many past lives.
– A Buddha can recall anything in the past, not only in his lifestream but anyone else’s.
P.S. just to emphasize: A memory has not only an imprint of that previous rupa but associated mental aggregates. When we recall a happy event in the past, for example, we recall those who were there AND also the kind of joy experienced.
– Same applies when recalling a song, a meal, etc. experienced in the past.
Sincere thanks to all the participants for the detailed explanation and the all the links.
Studying the links will keep me busy for the next several months (unfortunately my brain tends to get overloaded with the subject and I end up taking breaks and readings issues on
current politics and get completely distracted and sidetracked)
Sir, it is very intriguing to hear that the rupakkhanda includes all the past rupa that one
has ever experienced and it includes all the past, present and future rupakkhandas.
Comparing the river analogy, the clean waters of the Yamuna becomes toxic and non potable
when it reaches Delhi (which is a fairly short distance – 233 miles
), it is inconceivable that the
rupakkhanda has all the rupa that it has ever experienced (considering the countless lives
one has taken in samsara) and very scary that there is every possibility of one being very
pure at one stage and being completely polluted at some stage.
All one can do is try and hope to achieve the first path and fruit.
Raj wrote: “it is inconceivable that the rupakkhanda has all the rupa that it has ever experienced (considering the countless lives one has taken in samsara) and very scary that there is every possibility of one being very pure at one stage and being completely polluted at some stage..”
Yes. Rupakkhandha includes RECORDS OF all past rupa. The same is true for vedanakkhandha, sannakkhandha, etc. But we don’t remember the five aggregates separately. A given past event has all five aggregates associated with it and we MAY remember them together (or some parts of them).
– But that does not mean we remember all that. Most people don’t even remember many things that happened even a few days ago.
– But some of those events mold our character/habits. That is how our character (gati) evolves over time. Of course, over long times our character can change back and forth many times (good to bad and vice versa).
Just try to get the basic idea. The current series of posts are important:
“Basic Framework of Buddha Dhamma“
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