Kamma Viññāṇa – Link Between Mind and Matter

Kamma Viññāna is the link between mind and matter. Majje Sutta clearly states that nāma is at one end, rūpa is at the other end, with viññāna in the middle.

November 30, 2017; revised February 6, 2020; April 11, 2021; April 6, 2023

Vipāka Viññāṇa Versus Kamma Viññāṇa

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

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

2.  Ānāpāna and Satipathāna Bhāvanā involve controlling kamma viññāṇa by being mindful of the manō saṅkhāra that AUTOMATICALLY arise and controlling them with vaci and kāya saṅkhāra that we consciously generate. The basis of this critical fact is discussed in “Root of All Suffering – Ten Immoral Actions.”

  • This means that during formal meditation, we only control our vaci saṅkhāra (conscious thoughts) since we do not move our bodies or speak.
  • However, during all waking hours, we need to control both vaci and kāya saṅkhāra (i.e., our conscious thoughts, speech, and bodily actions); see “Root of All Suffering – Ten Immoral Actions.”
  • Please do not ignore the initial posts in the “Living Dhamma” section, such as the above-mentioned post. It is impossible to grasp complex posts like this one without that basic knowledge.
Paṭicca Samuppāda Has Kamma Viññāṇa

3. In Paṭicca Samuppāda it is the kamma viññāṇa that comes into play in, “saṅkhāra paccayā viññāṇa“, NOT the vipāka viññāṇa.

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

3. Furthermore, the next step in Paṭicca Samuppāda is “viññāṇa paccayā nāmarūpa.” As you can see, this is where the connection to rūpa is made. We will discuss that in detail below.

The KEY POINT is that kamma viññāṇa is not totally mental: The mind — when attached to something — will create energy (i.e., a kamma bīja 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 “manañca paṭicca dhammē ca uppajjāti manōviññāṇaṃ. “that we discussed in  “What are rūpa? – Dhamma are rūpa too!“.
  • Then, in the latter part of that citta vithi, more kamma viññāṇa are created; see,How Are Paṭicca Samuppāda Cycles Initiated?“.
  • Thus it is a feedback process that gets strengthened with time.
Kamma Viññāṇa Make Kamma Bīja

4. That kamma viññāṇa can be building up a kamma bīja (or a dhammā) in the kamma bhava overtime via the Paṭicca Samuppāda process: “viññāṇa paccayā nāmarūpa”, nāmarūpa paccayā salāyatana”, “salāyatana paccayā phassa”, “phassa paccayā vēdanā”, “vēdanā paccayā taṇhā”, “taṇhā paccayā upādāna”, and “upādāna paccayā bhava”. 

  • Then under suitable conditions (see “Annantara and Samanantara Paccaya“), that kamma bīja (or a dhammā) can come back — as a vipāka —  and start that process all over again; see,How Are Paṭicca Samuppāda Cycles Initiated?“.
  • A dhammā with energy or a kamma bīja created previously can come back to the mind as a vipāka viññāṇa via “manañca paṭicca dhammē ca uppajjāti manōviññāṇaṃ.”
  • Every time one generates vaci or kaya saṅkhāra relevant to that viññāṇa,  that makes viññāṇa stronger.  
Nāmarūpa Are Precursors to Rūpa Created by the Mind

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

  • It is also important to remember that dhammā includes kamma bīja and nāmagotta (any record of anything that a given person has done.) 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 “viññāṇa 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 viññāṇa will grow with time.
  • The only way to break that habit of drinking is to be mindful of the bad consequences of drinking and to forcefully suppress any thoughts about drinking (vaci saṅkhāra) and abstain from drinking (kāya saṅkhāra).
Kamma Viññāṇa Is the Link Between Mind and Matter

7. What we discussed above is quite important. Kamma viññāṇa is the link between mind and matter. It is energy made by the mind. A kamma viññāṇa creates tiny amounts of matter (rūpa) below the suddhāṭṭhaka stage. It is important to fully understand this point for one to grasp the meaning of “manō pubbaṅgamā dhammā…”. This is how the mind (manō) creates dhammā via viññāṇa.

  • This is confirmed in the Majjhe Sutta (AN 6.61), where it is stated that nama is at one end, rūpa is at the other end, with viññāṇa in the middle: nāmaṃ kho, āvuso, eko anto, rūpaṃ dutiyo anto, viññāṇaṃ majjhe.”
  • This has a deep meaning. It is the mind that “binds” nama and rupa to make nāmarupa; see “Nāmarūpa Formation.”
  • It would be helpful to follow 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 suddhāṭṭhaka 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 phoṭṭhabba rūpa (in other words, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and body touches).
  • The mind enjoys all those sense imprints that come in. The mind can also enjoy thinking about past sensory experiences and any planned future events. The “fine rūpa” involved here are “dhammā“; see, “What are rūpa? – Dhammā are rūpa too!“.
Connection to Dhammā

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, which are rūpa that are below the suddhāṭṭhaka, 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!“.
  • The mind makes some dhammā via kamma viññāṇa! That kamma viññāṇa had created a dhammā that got deposited in the kamma bhava as kamma bīja or dhammā with energy. This is the connecting piece of the puzzle. We discuss this in different ways to grasp this key idea.
  • All dhammās, including nāma gotta and kamma viññāṇa (also called kamma bīja), are in the nāma lōka; see “Our Two Worlds: Material and Mental.”
Rūpa Generation Process

10. The point is that “saṅkhāra paccayā viññāṇa” starts the “rūpa generation process,” and the  “viññāṇa paccayā nāmarūpa” completes it.

  • In Paṭicca 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 human birth, this is the single cell (zygote); see, “What does Buddha Dhamma (Buddhism) say about Birth Control?“.
  • In Paṭicca Samuppāda cycles operating during a lifetime, this nāmarūpa gives rise to new sensory events via “nāmarūpa paccayā salāyatana,” where existing indriya become āyatana for a new sensory event.
  • Note that our indriya (cakkhu, sota, ghana, etc.) do not always act as āyatana. Only when we act with lobha, dosa, and moha act as āyatana to lead to new kamma.
Connection to Gati (Habits/Character)

11. In many posts at the site, we have discussed how our gati lead to the creation of viññāṇa 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“.

We Don’t Have Control Over Vipāka Viññāṇa

12. Vipāka viññāṇa are the results of the previous kamma and cannot be stopped. What we need to stop is kamma viññāṇa that AUTOMATICALLY arise due to our gati; see, “Avyākata Paṭicca Samuppāda for Vipāka Viññāna.”

  • Now we are essentially putting together the pieces of a puzzle to develop the Buddha’s worldview 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 start from the essential components.
  • The picture will become more precise with the next post in the series, “Kamma Viññāna and Nāmarūpa Paricceda Ñana.”
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