Cuti and Marana – Related to Bhava and Jāti

Cuti is the end of a uppatti bhava, and marana is the end of a jāti within a uppatti bhava. There can be many jātis (births) within a uppatti bhava for humans and animals.

August 17, 2022


1. There can be many jātis within a uppatti bhava. See “Bhava and Jāti – States of Existence and Births Therein.” That holds particularly for the human and animal realms. There usually is one jāti within a uppatti bhava in the Deva and Brahma realms.

  • A uppatti bhava starts at a paṭisandhi moment and ends at a cuti moment. For example, if a Deva dies and gets a “human existence (bhava),” the cuti of that Deva bhava is immediately followed by a paṭisandhi to grasp the human bhava.
  • That human uppatti bhava can last many thousands of years. At the moment of paṭisandhi to the human bhava, only a manomaya kāya (human gandhabba) is born. That human gandhabba will get into many wombs during that time and will be born with physical human bodies many times. A human baby’s birth (jāti) ends in physical death (marana) within about 100 years.
  • At the end of the human bhava, that human gandhabba‘s life will end (cuti), and paṭisandhi to a new existence will occur unless that lifestream had attained the Arahant stage. Marana (death of a physical body) usually does not end the human bhava. See Ref. 1 for details.
  • If the above is not clear, please ask questions at the forum. With that summary, we can now discuss the details.
Bhava and Gati

2. The Buddha divided all existences into five main categories based on predominant gati. The “Gati Sutta (AN 9.68)” lists those five main categories: Hell (niraya), the animal realm (tiracchāna,) the hungry ghost realm (peta,) humans (manussa,) and Deva. Many suttas (including Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta) sometimes lump the Devās in the six Deva realms and Brahmās in 20 Brahma realms into one category as Devās.

  • When a lifestream is in a specific existence, it will predominantly have the gati associated with that realm. While in Deva realms, that living being mainly displays “Deva gati” per their particular realm. For example, Devās in the lower six realms still crave sensual pleasures, i.e., kama raga. Brahmās in the higher 20 realms don’t have cravings for sensual pleasures. But neither will engage in akusala kamma during their life as Deva/Brahma.
  • While in a niraya realm, a lifestream will have the gati of a “hell being.” During such an existence, no kind thoughts arise, for example, and mostly a painful and angry mindset will persist. This bhava has dosa (extreme anger/hate) as the base; of course, moha is there too.
  • In a hungry ghost (peta) realm, the mindset/gati will be that of one constantly in hunger pains. This gati is based on lobha (extreme greed) and moha.
  • The animal realm has “all three defiled gati,” i.e., lobha, dosa, and moha.

3. Human (manussa) existence is unique in many ways.

  • A human can cultivate gati corresponding to any of the 31 realms, not just the primary five categories mentioned in the Gati Sutta.
  • We can see some humans who behave like Devās: Some engage in giving, helping others, etc., and cultivate gati to be born in the six Deva realms. Others develop (anariya/Ariya) jhāna corresponding to various Brahma realms and will be reborn in the corresponding Brahma realms.
  • Some humans cultivate “apayagami gati,” which leads to births in the niraya, peta, asura, and animal realms. Those who develop extreme anger/hate (and thus kill, rape, and abuse others) will be born in the niraya (hell.) Some cultivate extreme greedy gati (and steal, take bribes, etc.) and become destined to the peta realms. An animal bhava has developed with both greed and hate. An animal bhava has a mixture of both. Since ignorance is also there, they will have all three “san” (that is the root of the word “tirisan = three sans” for an animal in Sinhala.) See #3 of “Lōbha, Dōsa, Mōha versus Rāga, Paṭigha, Avijjā.”
  • Humans can, of course, cultivate “human gati that will allow another human bhava in the future. “Human gati” is similar to the gati of Devās in the lower six realms but with an enhanced craving for sensory pleasures.
Connection to Aggañña Sutta

4. To make some connections, let us digress to the introductory post “Buddhism and Evolution – Aggañña Sutta (DN 27)“.

Per “Aggañña Sutta (DN 27), at the beginning of a “new Earth” (after a “loka vināsaya” or the “destruction of the existing Erath”), only the realms above the Ābhassara Brahma realm are populated. Destruction of Earth (and Sun) would have led to the destruction of lower realms. As explained in that post, all sentient beings would have moved up to or above the Ābhassara Brahma realm by the time of “loka vināsaya.”

  • When a new Earth forms after billions of years, an uncountable number of Ābhassara Brahmās would be at the end of their lifetimes, and they will first be reborn in the human realm with “Brahma-like” subtle bodies. Then over millions of years, those “Brahma-like” bodies will evolve into the denser physical bodies we have today.
  • After millions of years (especially after evolving into denser bodies,) some will start engaging in akusala kamma when the “old habits (gati)” return. They had been hiding as “anusaya.” First, some will be reborn in the animal realm; then, the other three lower realms will start populating as more humans leave the human bhava and “proceed downward.” Before the arrival of the animals, plant life will gradually come into existence. See Ref. 2 for more details on gati and anusaya.

5. The point is that the human realm is the “base station.” This is where the seeds (kamma bija/kamma bhava) to be born in all other realms are cultivated.

  • That point can be clearly illustrated with an Abhidhamma analysis, which I hope to do. But the following is a summary.
  • Only a human mind can generate all 81 (121) types of citta. On the other hand, arupāvacara Brahmās mainly generate only eight types of citta. The human realm is like a training school. Those humans taking a “downward path” by engaging in akusala kamma end up in apāyās; those who cultivate arupāvacara jhānās are born in an arupāvacara Brahma realm, etc.
  • Those uncountable number of “Brahma-like” humans at the beginning of a “new Earth” will slowly start populating all other realms, mainly the lower realms. Of course, some will even move up to realms higher than the Ābhassara Brahma realm.

6. Almost all the living beings in the apāyās now had been “Brahma-like” humans at the beginning of the mahā kappa, i.e., at the beginning of this Earth when it was first formed.

  • It is worthwhile to contemplate that. There are less than eight billion people on Earth right now. But in the backyard of a house, there can be more small insects, ants, worms, and other tiny creatures. Scientists estimate that there is one quadrillion (one million billion) ants on earth. There are even more living beings in the oceans compared to the land.
  • Therefore, when the Earth formed several billion years ago, there must have been an accountable number of humans with “Brahma-like” subtle bodies. Most of them took “downward paths.” Of course, we can see only the animals, not those born in the other realms in apāya.
  • Thus, Buddha’s above explanation is exactly the opposite of the currently-accepted Darwin’s theory of evolution. However, the theory of evolution will be proven to be incorrect in the future.
  • Of course, science’s position of the whole universe coming to existence in a “Big Bang” is also not consistent with Buddha Dhamma, as I discussed in “Buddhism and Evolution – Aggañña Sutta (DN 27)“. So far, several of the Buddha’s original teachings — which were thought to be incorrect by science a few hundred years ago — have now been confirmed by science. See  Ref. 3.
Series of “Cuti Suttās

7. It is informative to look at a series of suttas on what happens at the end of a human bhava, i.e, the “cuti moment” of leaving the human bhava. Remember that (per #1 above) grasping of a new existence happens only at the “cuti moment” at the end of the human bhava, not at  “marana” or the death of a physical human body.

  • There is a sutta that says (upon exiting any existence) that getting a human existence is very rare; see “Nakhasikha Sutta (SN 20.2).”
  • Then there are a series of suttas specific to different types of originating and destination bhava.

8. The series of specific suttas start with the “Manussacutiniraya Sutta (SN 56. 102)” which says, “.those who die as humans (not the physical death, but cuti) and are reborn as humans are few, while those who die as humans and are reborn in hell are many ….”

  • Then the following suttas say that those who die as humans and are reborn in the animal and hungry ghost realms are many:  “Manussacutitiracchāna Sutta (SN 56. 103),” and “Manussacutipettivisaya Sutta (SN 56. 104).
  • The “Manussacutidevanirayādi Sutta (SN 56. 105)” says those who die as humans and are reborn in Deva realms are few, but born in niraya are many. Then the “Devacutinirayādi Sutta (SN 56. 106)” states, “who die as Devās and are reborn as Devās are few, while those who die as Devās and are reborn in hell, animal realm, or the hungry-ghost realm are many.”
  • Note that “Manussacutiniraya Sutta” is “Manussa cuti niraya Sutta” and indicates a human grasping a niraya bhava at the cuti moment. The other suttas have similar names.
  • Many such combinations are shown in the rest of the series. It is a good idea to click through the rest of the suttas.

9. Cuti is the end of a uppatti bhava, and marana is the end of a jāti within a uppatti bhava. There can be many jātis (births) within a uppatti bhava for humans and animals.

  • Devās and Brahmās have only a single jāti (birth) to that uppatti bhava.
  • All uppatti bhava end at the cuti moment.
  • It is only for humans (and animals) that “marana” takes place at the death of a physical body; that is not the end of the human (animal) bhava. On the other hand, Devās and Brahmās are born (jāti) at paṭisandhi and reach the end of that existence at the cuti moment.
  • It is extremely difficult to get a uppatti bhava at or above human bhava. Most cuti-paṭisandhi transitions grasp a bhava in the four lowest realms or the apāyās. It is critical to keep that in mind.

1.  “Gati, Bhava, and Jāti” and “Cuti-Paṭisandhi – An Abhidhamma Description.

2. “The Law of Attraction, Habits, Character (Gati), and Cravings (Āsava)” and “9. Key to Ānapānasati – How to Change Habits and Character (Gati).”

3. “31 Realms Associated with the Earth.” Also, see the last two subsections in “Dhamma and Science.”

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