Kamma Viññāna – Link Between Mind and Matter

November 30, 2017

1. In the previous post in this series, we discussed that there are two types of viññāna: vipāka viññāna and kamma viññāna; see, “Viññāna – What It Really Means“.

  • We don’t have control over vipāka viññāna, but we do have control over kamma viññāna (via controlling our sankhāra) , and that is why it is possible to attain Nibbāna.
  • We cannot do anything about the vipāka viññāna. Even in an Arahant they arise as kamma vipāka; he/she will also see, hear, etc like anyone else.
  • Vipāka viññāna can arise via any of the six sense doors, i.e., as cakkhu, sōta,ghāna, jivhā, kāya, or manō viññāna. Based on those, WE initiate new kamma viññāna, as we discussed in the above mentioned post. This process is analyzed in detail in, “How Are Paticca Samuppāda Cycles Initiated?“.
  • What we can — and need to do — is to stop “sankhāra paccayā viññāna” — specifically strong vaci and kāya abhisankhāra — leading to new strong kamma viññānaKamma viññāna ALWAYS arise first as manō viññāna.

2.  Ānāpāna and Satipathāna bhavana involve controlling kamma viññāna by being mindful of the manō sankhāra that AUTOMATICALLY arise and controlling them with vaci and kāya sankhāra that we consciously generate. The basis of this critical fact is discussed at, “Root of All Suffering – Ten Immoral Actions“.

  • In formal sitting-down meditation, this means just controlling our vaci sankhāra (conscious thoughts), since we do not move our bodies or speak.
  • However, during all waking hours we need to control both vaci and kāya sankhāra (i.e., our conscious thoughts, speech, and bodily actions); see, “Root of All Suffering – Ten Immoral Actions“.
  • By the way, please do not ignore the initial posts in the “Living Dhamma” section, such as the above mentioned post. It is not possible to grasp complex posts like this one without that basic knowledge.

3. In Paticca Samuppāda it is the kamma viññāna that comes into play in, “sankhāra paccayā viññāna“, NOT the vipāka viññāna.

  • All sankhāra are generated in our minds. While manō sankhāra arise automatically, we CONSCIOUSLY generate vaci and kāya sankhāra, leading to kamma viññāna; see, “Root of All Suffering – Ten Immoral Actions“.
  • This is why sankhāra are food for the viññāna, specifically for the kamma viññāna.

3. Furthermore, the next step in Paticca Samuppāda is “viññāna paccayā nāmarūpa“. As you can see, this is where the connection to rūpa is made; we will discuss in detail below.

The KEY POINT is that kamma viññāna is not totally mental: The mind — when attached to something — will create an energy (i.e., a kamma beeja or a dhammā) that will be recorded in the kamma bhava.

  • Then in the future, that dhammā can come back to the mana indriya and trigger a mind-sense event via “manaca paticca dhammeca uppaddati cakkhu viññānam“. that we discussed in  “What are rūpa? – Dhamma are rūpa too!“.
  • Then, in the latter part of that citta vithi, more kamma viññāna are created; see,How Are Paticca Samuppāda Cycles Initiated?“.
  • Thus it is a feedback process that gets strengthened with time.

4. That kamma viññāna can be building up a kamma beeja (or a dhammā) in the kamma bhava over time via the Paticca Samuppāda process: “viññāna paccayā nāmarūpa”, nāmarūpa paccayā salāyatana”, “salāyatana paccayā phassa”, “phassa paccayā vēdanā”, “vēdanā paccayā tanhā”, “tanhā paccayā upādāna”, and “upādāna paccayā bhava”. 

  • Then under suitable conditions (see, “Annantara and Samanantara Paccaya“), that kamma beeja (or a dhammā) can come back — as a vipāka —  and start that process all over again; see,How Are Paticca Samuppāda Cycles Initiated?“.
  • A dhammā with energy or a kamma beeja created previously can come back to the mind as a vipāka viññāna via “manaca paticca dhammeca uppaddati manō viññānam“.
  • Every time one generates vaci or kaya sankhara relevant to that  viññāna,  that makes viññāna stronger.  

5. As  viññāna gets strongerviññāna paccayā nāmarūpa” makes nāmarūpa stronger. This nāmarūpa is the first stage of a rūpa that is created by the mind, with the viññāna acting as the intermediary.

  • It is also important to remember that dhammā includes not only kamma beeja, but also any record of anything that has been done by a given person. So, we can also recall events that have nothing to do with kammic energy, for example, remembering talking to someone or seeing something or solving a math problem; see, “Difference Between Dhammā and Sankhāra“.

6. For example, an alcoholic has a “viññāna for drinking”. He (she) constantly thinks about drinking, and will build up a “drunk existence (bhava)”, which comes back to his mind as a dhammā to trigger more thoughts about drinking.

  • Until he breaks that loop by willfully controlling his thoughts and actions involving drinking, that viññāna will grow with time.
  • The only way to break that habit of drinking is to be mindful about the bad consequences of drinking and to forcefully suppress any thoughts about drinking (vaci sankhāra) and abstain from drinking (kāya sankhāra).

7. What we discussed above is quite important. Kamma viññāna is the link between mind and matter; it is an energy made by the mind; it creates tiny amounts of matter (rūpa) below the suddhāshtaka stage. It is important to fully understand this point for one to fully grasp the meaning of “manō pubbangama dhammā…”. This is in fact how the mind (manō) is creating dhammā via viññāna.

  • This is confirmed in the Majje Sutta (AN 6.61), where it is stated that nama is at one end, rūpa is at the other end, with viññāna in the middle: nāmaṃ kho, āvuso, eko anto, rūpaṃ dutiyo anto, viññāṇaṃ majjhe“.
  • It would be helpful if one had followed the preceding posts in the “Living Dhamma” section.

8. The goal of a given mind is to extract sense pleasures from the outside world, which is made of rūpa both above and below the suddhāshtaka stage; see, “Our Two Worlds : Material and Mental“.

  • We all are familiar with sense enjoyment via the five physical senses. But the most enjoyment we experience is through the sixth sense, the mind.
  • The five physical senses only bring in imprints of the five types of “solidified rūpa“: rūpa rūpa, sadda rūpa, gandha rūpa, rasa rūpa, and pottabbha rūpa (in other words, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and body touches).
  • All those sense imprints that come in are enjoyed by the mind. In addition, the mind can also enjoy thinking about such past sense experiences AND also any planned future events. The “fine rūpa” involved here are “dhammā“; see, “What are rūpa? – Dhammā are rūpa too!“.

9. How does the mind enjoy past sense experiences or future expected experiences? The answer to this question leads us to the concept of dhammā, those rūpa that are below the suddhāshtaka, and thus are really energies.

  • Just like we “bring in” external rūpa (or rūpa rūpa or varna rūpa ) with our eyes, external sounds with our ears, etc, we bring in external dhammā through the mana indriya, as explained in “What are rūpa? – Dhamma are rūpa too!“.
  • Some of those dhammā are made by the mind via kamma viññāna! That kamma viññāna had created a dhammā that got deposited in the kamma bhava as kamma beeja or dhammā with energy. This is the connecting piece of the puzzle. We discuss this in different ways, in order to grasp this key idea.

10. The point is that “sankhāra paccayā viññāna” starts the “rūpa generation process” the  “viññāna paccayā nāmarūpa” completes it.

  • In Paticca Samuppāda cycles leading to rebirth, this nāmarūpa is the blueprint for the new existence via “nāmarūpa paccayā salāyatana“, a new set of indriya are formed. In the case of a human birth, this is the single cell (zygote); see, “What does Buddha Dhamma (Buddhism) say about Birth Control?“.
  • In Paticca Samuppāda cycles operating during a lifetime, this nāmarūpa just gives rise to new sense events via “nāmarūpa paccayā salāyatana“, where existing indriya become āyatana for a new sense event.
  • Note that our indriya (cakkhu, sota, ghana, etc) do not always act as āyatana. Only when we act with lobha, dosa, moha that they act as āyatana to lead to new kamma.

11. In many posts at the site, we have discussed how our gathi lead to the creation of viññāna for certain things we crave (and dislike); see, for example, “2. Viññāna (Consciousness) can be of Many Different Types and Forms” and “3. Viññāna, Thoughts, and the Subconscious“.

11. Vipāka viññāna are results of previous kamma, and cannot be stopped. What we need to stop is kamma viññāna that AUTOMATICALLY arise due to our gathi; see, “Avyākata Paticca Samuppāda for Vipāka Viññāna“.

  • Now we are essentially putting together the pieces of a puzzle to come up with the Buddha’s world view to illustrate how the mind creates the world. Key pieces to the puzzle are in various sections of the website. In the “Living Dhamma” section all those components are put together starting from the basic components.
  • The picture will become more clear with the next post in the series, “Kamma Viññāna and Nāmarūpa Paricceda Ñana”.
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