July 22, 2016; December 1, 2017
1. In previous posts in this series we discussed kabalinkā āhāra for the physical body and three types of āhāra for the “mental body” (or manō maya kaya or gandhabba): phassa āhāra, manō sancētanā āhāra, and viññāna āhāra.
- The manō maya kaya or the gandhabba consists of three components: kammaja kaya, citta kaya, and utuja kaya. The kammaja kaya gets its energy at the beginning of that bhava, and does not require any external āhāra. The utuja kaya is sustained continuously via fine rupa produced by kammaja kaya and cittaja kaya.
- Therefore, the three types of āhāra for the manōmaya kaya are all consumed by the cittaja kaya. This cittaja kaya is nothing else but the stream of thoughts that we generate.
- An aside: Sometimes the gandhabba can inhale “arōma” or gandha (kabalinkā āhāra) and have a fine (misty) physical body too; thus the name gandhabba, where “abbha” means “inhale”. Such “more solidified” are the ones that people can sometimes see, and even be captured by a camera.
2. Now we can take a step back and look at the big picture, and it gives a very illuminating view. This “big picture” could be very helpful in comprehending the anicca nature. Of course, this is not the only way to grasp anicca nature.
- The physical body that we value so much and think about as “me” is just a temporary shell. Just like anything material in this world, it grows and peaks and then starts the downhill march ending in decay and eventual death. At the death of physical body, the gandhabba that comes out and has to wait for a suitable womb to start building a new body, if the human bhava still has more kammic energy left; see, for example, “Bhava and Jāti – States of Existence and Births Therein” and “Gandhabba – Only in Human and Animal Realms“.
- This is a key factor that contributed to the concept of a “self” (“āthma”) in Hinduism. Hindu yogis who cultivated abhiññā powers could look back at a finite number of previous lives and could see a gandhabba giving rise to repeated rebirths in human form (they likely practiced jhāna in those recent previous lives, which made it easier for them to attain abhiññā powers in this life).
- However, they could not see far back enough to see that one could be born an animal or even worse too.
3. For humans and animals, we can compare the physical body controlled by the gandhabba to a car (or any other vehicle) being driven by a person. The body of the vehicle is like our physical body, and the driver is analogous to the gandhabba. Without the gandhabba , the physical body cannot do anything; it would be a lifeless, i.e., a dead body. It is the gandhabba that “operates” the human body; see, “Ghost in the Machine – Synonym for the Manomaya Kaya?“.
- The gandhabba, in turn, arises due to the kammic energy that was created in a previous life; the kammaja kaya represents that energy, and will be slowly depleting with time. The term kammaja kaya comes from “kamma” and “ja” and “kaya“. Here “ja” means “birth” or “origin” and “kaya” is body. Thus kammaja kaya means the “body that was created due to kamma“.
- Similarly, cittaja kaya arises due to citta (loosely translated as thoughts).
- “Utu” means “change” and the utuja kaya is that part of the gandhabba body which arises by conversion of kammic energy and the energy from citta (javana).
4. Now, we can see the critical importance of citta. Kammaja kaya itself arises due to previous kamma, i.e., by citta in a previous lives. More specifically, javana in those citta provided the energy for a new bhava which lead to the kammaja kaya; see, “Javana of a Citta – The Root of Mental Power“.
- Kammaja kaya is just a result, and it will slowly lose its energy over the human existence. We cannot do anything about (but if one does an anatariya kamma it will be shortened). Thus it is only the cittaja kaya that we have control over. This is critically important. We have finally converged to the essence of a human being.
- This is why the Buddha said “manō pubbangamā Dhamma.…”. The origin of anything can be traced back to the mind (thoughts).
- Here we see the truth of the above statement for living beings. In the future, it will become clear that ANYTHING in this world has origins that can be traced back to the mind. That is the story in the Agganna sutta. But we have to proceed step-by-step.
5. We have the control over our own destiny via our thoughts or cittaja kaya. I cannot emphasize enough the critical importance of the cittaja kaya.
- Therefore, we have to pay attention to what kind of āhāra (conventionally translated as food, but you can see that is not a good translation) that we provide for our thought stream. But we have control over only those thoughts that we initiate.
6. There are two types of thoughts. Some citta arise due to kamma vipāka. For example, we may get to taste a delicious meal due to a good kamma vipāka and while eating it we feel “jivhā viññāna“, i.e., those come through our sense of taste. These do not have abhisankhāra. Also see, “Vedana (Feelings) Arise in Two Ways“.
- There is another set of citta that we initiate. For example, based on that tasty meal, we start thinking about coming back to the same restaurant in the future, how to make it at home, etc. These generate abhisankhāra. The worst kind is apunnābhisankhāra, where we think about ways to get that meal in an immoral way, say, by stealing.
- But if it is just some food that quenches the hunger, we do not generate that type of citta subsequent to the vipāka citta.
- In another example, we see millions of things in a day (via vipāka citta), but generate abhisankhāra only in a few.
7. The Buddha said, “kammā vipākā vaddanthi, vipākā kamma sambhavō, tasmā punabbhavō hōti, ēvam lōkō pavattati“.
- What that means is: “Because of kamma vipāka we experience sense inputs; based on those we initiate new kamma (abhisankhāra), and those in turn will bring vipāka in the future; that is how the world evolves (rebirth process continues)”.
- Thus the critical part is where we generate abhisankhāra. This is done with javana citta. We will discuss this using citta vithi in the future, but let us try to get some basic understanding of how these javana citta can be controlled. There are many posts in the “Mind and Consciousness” and “Citta and Cetasika” sections on citta and citta vithi.
8. In fact, these javana citta run too fast to control at that time. Billions of citta run in a second. How can we control them? We cannot control them in situ, as they initially arise.
- Those javana citta arise due to our gathi! This is the key.
- For example, an Arahant will not be tempted by any attractive sense input. He has removed all āsavas (cravings) and there is no anusaya to bubble up. He/she has “Noble gathi of an Arahant“.
- On the other hand, a Sōtapanna may be tempted by that attractive sense input. He has not removed all āsavas (cravings); but he/she has removed gathi suitable for the apāyas, so javana citta corresponding to highly immoral acts will not arise .
- The āsava (or gathi) are analogous to the dirt in the bottom of a well. If the well water is perturbed, some dirt can come to the surface (anusaya). (i.e., if a sense input matching our gathi comes into play, bad thoughts automatically come into the mind). This is discussed in the post, “3. The Second Level – Key to Purify the Mind” in the Meditation section.
- When one attains the Sōtapanna stage, the worst types of “gunk” will be removed. The rest will be removed in three more stages (Sakadāgāmi, Anāgāmi, Arahant).
9. In a normal human, whether or not immoral javana citta will be triggered, will depend on his/her set of āsavas (or gathi). If that particular sense input is attractive (i.e., matches his/her āsavas), then he/she may automatically initiate a highly immoral act to pursue that sense input.
- But the key here is that, even if such immoral javana citta arise, one can still suppress them if one has learned Satipatthāna (or Ānāpāna), before the actual act is done. For extremely immoral acts, like killing another human, most people will be able to control such thoughts even without knowing about Satipatthāna. But the more one learns Dhamma, and the more one understands the consequences, one will be able to have more control even over minor offenses.
- Furthermore, the more one controls one’s actions this way, the more one’s gathi will change for the better. This is the another key! This has been discussed in detail in, “9. Key to Anapanasati – How to Change Habits and Character (Gathi)“. There are several posts under that topic.
10. A large chunk of immoral gathi will be removed just via comprehending anicca, dukkha, anatta at the Sōtapanna stage. In fact those gathi that are suitable to be born in the apāyas will be removed. This is called “dassanèna pahäthabbä“, i.e., “removal via correct vision”.
- Thus highly immoral javana citta will not even be triggered in a Sōtapanna. Just like a well that has been cleaned of the visible dirt at the bottom can not be muddied by perturbing the water in that well, highly immoral thoughts do not arise in a Sōtapanna because “worst gunk” has been removed from his/her mind.
- But to be able to grasp anicca, dukkha, anatta, one’s mind needs to be cleansed to some extent. Gradual changing of one’s gathi or āsava (via removing bad ones and by cultivating good ones) needs to be done with Ānāpāna bhāvanā (or Satipatthāna bhāvanā) is needed even before the Sōtapanna stage, and that needs to be continued until the Arahantship.
11. Thus the key to Nibbāna is in the uadayavaya nana: future rebirths arise (uadaya) due to abhisankhāra (or cētana) in our javana citta. By controlling immoral thoughts via reducing our āsava (bad gathi), we can eventually stop them from arising.
- This is done by always being vigilant about the moral or immoral thoughts that come to our minds; this is Satipatthāna; see, “Maha Satipatthāna Sutta“. Then if the thought is moral, we cultivate it (äna); if it is immoral, we stop it (päna) before it leads to bad speech or actions; this is Ānāpāna; see, “7. What is Änapäna?“.
- The other key point is that the more cleans one’s mind, the more one will be able to comprehend. In particular, comprehending anicca, dukkha, anatta, REQUIRES a mind cleansed to some extent.
- I hope you can see that this is a feedback loop: each time one goes through the loop (being vigilant or Satipatthāna to cleansing the mind or Ānāpāna to more cleansed mind to grasping deeper Dhamma and back to being vigilant), one makes progress.
12. This effect is greatly amplified when one finally grasps Tilakkhana: One comprehends the futility of staying in this rebirth process (anatta), because anything that we acquire through much effort cannot be kept to our satisfaction in the long run (anicca) and eventually lead to nothing but suffering (dukha), and one can clearly see the need for urgency to reduce and remove one’s āsava (bad gathi). This leads to the Sōtapanna stage.
- A huge chunk of āsava (bad gathi) are removed just via this understanding of the anicca nature at the Sōtapanna stage. One is permanently released from rebirth in the apāyas — the four lowest realms — because highly potent immoral javana citta do not arise in the mind of a Sōtapanna.
- Thus with udayavaya nana, one can really clarify the path to the Sōtapanna stage.
- Then the remaining āsava are removed (āsavakkhaya) via three more stages (Sakadāgāmi, Anāgāmi, Arahant) by continuing this process (Ānāpāna and Satipatthāna), and one attains Nibbāna, permanent happiness or the removal of all future suffering.
- But one also need to do Ānāpāna and Satipatthāna before the Sōtapanna stage in order to cleanse the mind to a level that is capable of grasping anicca, dukkha, anatta.
13. Finally, I would like to close the loop by pointing to the connection to concepts we have discussed in the early posts. The gandabbhaya consumes three kinds of mental food: phassa āhāra, manō sancētanā āhāra, and viññāna āhāra.
- As we saw in the previous post in this series, “Āhāra (Food) in Udayavaya Ñāna“, all three types of mental foods are consumed by the cittaja kaya. And this confirmed by the above discussion: Our initial sense inputs that COULD trigger javana citta come via phassa, sense contacts. They are JUST contacts. But based on those, we COULD accumulate new kamma vipāka (abhisankhāra) by making samphassa; also see, “Vedana (Feelings) Arise in Two Ways“.
- manō sancētanā āhāra (which are abhisankhāra) come into play during those samphassa; this simply means we start “making plans”, and also keep going back to that sense input. With repeated triggers for a given sense input (samphassa) provides āhāra for that viññāna; for example, see, “2. Vinnana (Consciousness) can be of Many Different Types and Forms“, and other relevant posts.
By reading the links given (and also using the “Search box” at top right) one should be able to clarify key issues. Please don’t hesitate to comment if you need help in clarifying a given concept.
14. Also, please make sure to enter your email address correctly when making a comment. Recently, one person entered incorrect address, and sent me the same question twice. Unfortunately, I have no way of letting him know that I replied each time.