Finest Manōmaya Kaya of an Arūpāvacara Brahma

December 19, 2018

1. As we discussed in the previous post, we can get some insights on “what survives the death of a physical body” by analyzing  jhānic experiences; see, “Types of Bodies in 31 Realms – Connection to Jhāna“.

  • As discussed there, one can experience for oneself that life is possible without a heavy, solid physical body. This can be experienced for oneself by cultivating jhāna.
  • There are many people even today who can experience jhāna, especially up to the fourth jhāna.

2. When one gets to the first jhāna, one “transcends” (or go beyond) the kāma lōka or “sense sphere”. Our human realm is one of 11 realms in the kāma lōka as we discussed before.

  • There are 16 realms in “rūpa lōka” where rūpāvacara brahmas live and there are 4 realms in “arūpa lōka” where arūpāvacara brahmas live. Those are the 31 realms.
  • In the Anupubbanirodha Sutta (AN 9.31): “Paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ samāpannassa   kāmasaññā niruddhā hoti” OR ““When one has attained the first jhāna, perceptions of sensuality (kāma saññāstop from arising“.
  • That means kāma sankappa (or sensual thoughts) would not arise in the yōgi. However, the yōgi still feels his/her physical body. Those “bodily sensations” decrease as the yōgi attains from the first to the fourth jhāna.
  • Those jhānic levels one through four correspond to the 16 rūpāvacara brahma realms.

3. If the yōgi can advance above the fourth jhāna, he/she next gets into the fifth jhāna which has a different mental experience. Jhānās fifth through eighth are called arūpāvacara jhāna.

  • The fifth jhāna or the first of the arūpāvacara jhāna is called the ākāsānancāyatana.
  • Even though those arūpāvacara jhāna are labelled as fifth through eighth jhāna these days, in suttas they are just called by their names:  ākāsānancāyatana, viññāṇañcāyatana, ākiñ­cañ­ñā­yatana, neva­saññā­nā­sañ­ñāyata­na.
  • The experiences of yōgis in arūpāvacara jhāna are similar to those of arūpāvacara brahmas in the highest 4 realms in the 31 realms.

4. Those arūpāvacara brahmas cannot even see or hear, unlike the rūpāvacara brahmas.

  • Those arūpāvacara brahmas have just a trace of matter: a hadaya vatthu, which is the seat of the mind. However, unlike rūpāvacara brahmas, they do not have pasāda rūpa for seeing and hearing.
  • They only have an awareness (saññā) of existence. In the Poṭṭha­pāda Sutta (DN 9) (and other suttas) this “third type of body” is called an “arupi saññāmaya kaya“.
  • Arupi means “without rūpa” (it actually has a trace of rūpa, just the hadaya vatthu). Saññāmaya means “with saññā”, i.e., one can still experience that one is still alive, one has perception (saññā).

5. It may be a good idea to re-read the following posts in this series just to firmly grasp these key ideas. Then it would be easier to follow the upcoming discussions. The first was, “Anattā (Mundane Interpretation) – No ‘Unchanging Self’”.

  • We discussed in the second post that the manōmaya kaya (with a hadaya vatthu and five pasāda rūpa) that can be separated from the karaja kaya was called “rupi manōmaya kaya” by those yōgis at the time of the Buddha:”Types of Bodies in 31 Realms – Connection to Jhāna“.
  • With that extremely small manōmaya kaya, a rupavacara brahma or a yogi who can come out of the physical body can hear and see. Since this manōmaya kaya is much smaller than an atom, this is something that is hard for us to even imagine.
  • However, those who experience out-of-body experiences, that is exactly what happens. So, this effect has been experienced by many people; see, “Manomaya Kaya and Out-of-Body Experience (OBE)“.

6. Now we can summarize what we have figured out so far: Any living being is born with a basic manōmaya kaya that comes in three basic varieties:

  • Those in kāma lōka have a manōmaya kaya with hadaya vatthu and five pasāda rūpa (i.e., all six “sensing elements”. That manōmaya kaya is “enclosed in” in a solid physical body (karaja kaya) that allows one to experience “sense pleasures”.
  • In the 16 rūpāvacara brahma realms, the manōmaya kaya has two pasāda rūpa (for vision and hearing), in addition to the seat of the mind (hadaya vatthu).
  • The finest manōmaya kaya is in the arupa lōka (4 arūpāvacara brahma realms), which only has the hadaya vatthu. They can only think.

7. There are 11 realms in kāma lōka (four apāyās, human realm, and 6 dēva realms).

  • The six dēva realms belong to the kāma lōka, and all those devas have “physical bodies” (karaja kaya) but they are finer than those of humans.
  • Of course, a solid physical body (karaja kaya) is not there for either a rūpāvacara or an arūpāvacara brahma.

8. By the way, we can now see how suffering decreases as one starts at the lowest realms (apāyās) and move up to human, dēva, and brahma realms. Human realm is where both suffering and happiness are present. Sense pleasures are optimum in dēva realms.

  • However, sense pleasures are not available in brahma realms. But the jhānic pleasures in those brahma realms are much better than sense pleasures.
  • Thoughts of greed and hate/anger cannot arise in any brahma, including rūpāvacara brahmas. This is why their minds are at peace.

9. That is also true of those who can get into the corresponding jhānās. While in those jhāna, thoughts of greed or hate/anger do no arise.

  • This is as close as one can get to Nibbāna, without even comprehending Buddha Dhamma. As we know, yōgis were able to get to those jhānās even before the Buddha by using breath or kasina meditations.
  • If those yōgis do not lose the ability to get into jhāna until death, they will be born in the corresponding brahma realms. However, since they have only SUPPRESSED greed and hate, they will come back down to the human realm at the end of “brahma bhava“. Subsequently, they can eventually end up in the lowest four realms (apāyās).

10. So, now we can see that there are two types of jhānic pleasures, and that those two varieties give rise to “two types of mental bodies or manōmaya kaya” (in addition to the dense body or the karaja kaya that we are familiar with).

  • However, a human who cultivates jhāna and even get to the highest arūpāvacara jhāna (8th jhāna), will still have the human manōmaya kaya that he/she was born with.
  • If a yōgi comes out of the physical body with that manōmaya kaya, it would have five pasāda rūpa and a hadaya vatthu.

11. Therefore, that manōmaya kaya that can be separated from the physical body of a human would have all five pasāda rūpa that are the actual “sensing elements” for seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and touching. Of course the “seat of the mind” — or the hadaya vatthu — would also come out with those five pasāda rūpa.

  • This is because it is not possible to separate any pasāda rūpa form the manōmaya kaya that is born at the beginning of the human bhava.
  • In fact, it is that manōmaya kaya that lives as a gandhabba in between two adjacent human births (jāti) until a suitable womb becomes available for it to enter.

12. In Buddha Dhamma, the closest equivalent of a “soul” is the “manōmaya kaya” or the “mental body”. However, it is not the same an unchanging soul.

  • As we saw, manōmaya kaya will take fundamentally different forms in the three types of lōka that encompasses the 31 realms: kāma lōka, rūpa lōka, and arupa lōka.
  • Furthermore, even during the human bhava, the manōmaya kaya can undergo drastic changes. When one attain jhāna or magga phala, it will undergo significant changes. In the case of magga phala, those changes are permanent.

13. In the next post, we will summarize the information that we have discussed so far with reference to key sections in the Poṭṭha­pāda Sutta (DN 9).

  • In that sutta, the Buddha explained those three types of “kaya” to Potthapāda, who was asking whether there exists an “absolute, unchanging, self” or an attā in the deeper sense (just like a “soul” that would have a “permanent existence” in heaven or hell in Abrahamic religions today).
  • It must be kept in mind that the above descriptions provide only the basic framework of the three types of lōka (kāma lōka, rūpa lōka, and arupa lōka), that encompass the 31 realms.
  • However, that is sufficient to get a good idea about the key differences among the 31 realms.
  • Furthermore, it explains a deeper meaning of “attā“.
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