What is the "life-principle"? (Jivitindriya)

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What is the "life-principle"? (Jivitindriya)

Postby Individual » Sat Jan 24, 2009 8:27 pm

I might specifically mean "Rupa-jivitindriya", the physical form of jivitindriya.

I was initially skeptical of the notion of qi, but through mindfulness of my mind and body, and some clarification (distinguishing qi from western misunderstandings and Asian superstitions), I do feel as though there is a generalized principle and substance of energy, vitality, or life. It's identified with the "breath" in Chinese, because it seems particularly present there, where you can observe the interconnectedness between the physical breath and the emotional breath (of the mind).

While running vigorously, I always feel a tightness where my lower dantian is supposed to be. I'm not overweight (I have a BMI of 23), but I have a decent sized gut and, as I run, I am burning that fat, and so it feels a bit like a tiny black hole, which the fat gets sucked into, and turned into energy (and so, after running, my stomach feels empty and I tend to feel hungry). Earlier today, while running, I was reflecting, as I sometimes do, on developing mental concentration and energy, to overcome the pain of exercise. I was in the middle of my 20-minute run (a little bit past 10 minutes), so it hurt a bit to breathe, but I was concentrating, reflecting on notself, on voidness, on Indra, on effort, and suddenly I felt a burst of energy beginning in my head, then moving down through the rest of my body, and every breath felt nurturing and I felt so strong and alive. When I meditate deeply, too, I feel a sense of light-headedness, as if someone were taking a bicycle pump and inflating my head with air.

In a recent dharma talk by Gil Fronsdal, a Theravadin Buddhist, I was interested to hear him describe how some people experience a burst of energy at the bottom of their torso, rising upwards (and what he seemed to be describing was the kundalini).

Are the above experiences simply imaginative delusions? What is meant by rupa-jivitindriya? And is there some similar notion to "Qi" or "Prana" in Theravada?
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: What is the "life-principle"? (Jivitindriya)

Postby cooran » Sat Jan 24, 2009 8:59 pm

Hello Individual,

You may like to read: Faculty-Condition (indriya-paccaya) from CONDITIONS Conditionality of Life in the Buddhist Teachings An outline of the 24 Conditions as taught in the Abhidhamma by Nina Van Gorkom
http://www.dhammastudy.com/Conditions13.html

metta
Chris
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Re: What is the "life-principle"? (Jivitindriya)

Postby Individual » Sat Jan 24, 2009 9:48 pm

Chris wrote:Hello Individual,

You may like to read: Faculty-Condition (indriya-paccaya) from CONDITIONS Conditionality of Life in the Buddhist Teachings An outline of the 24 Conditions as taught in the Abhidhamma by Nina Van Gorkom
http://www.dhammastudy.com/Conditions13.html

metta
Chris

I actually found the term "Rupa-jivitindriya" through reading Nina van Gorkum's work. She doesn't go into specifics or describe whether it might be compared to the notion of qi. All she says is:

As to life faculty, jivitindriya, there are two kinds: nama-jivitindriya and rupa-jivitindriya. Nama-jivitindriya which is a cetasika, one of the seven "universals"[134] arising with every citta, controls and maintains the life of the associated dhammas. It conditions the associated dhammas and the rupa produced by them by way of faculty-condition. As to rupa-jivitindriya, this is classified separately in the "Patthana"[135]. It maintains the life of the kamma-produced rupas it has arisen together with in one group. It is related to them by way of faculty-condition. In the groups of rupa produced by kamma there is always jivitindriya, whereas in the groups of rupa produced by citta, temperature and nutrition there is no jivitindriya.

I don't really like Gorkum's style of writing. She seems to have an obsession with Pali, an aversion to using suitable translations, despite the fact that the Buddha taught that dhamma could be taught in any language. Although it's true that some of the meaning of terms is preserved through leaving them untranslated, the inability to express Abhidhamma in English seems to imply a lack of understanding what the Abhidhamma actually says.

Since 90% of what she says is in Pali, it's a bit confusing to read. Even once you know the terms she's using and you can start to memorize the "patterns" of how the terms are related, you don't necessarily get any insight from memorizing such rhetorical patterns -- that is, unless they can be related to experience... but she rarely uses real-world examples and analogies, just coldly repeating the logical patterns of terms as they are used in the Abhidhamma. And if they could be related to experience (which they should be), then we come back to the idea that it isn't particularly necessary (possibly unskillful) to express yourself using strictly Pali terminology.

When it comes to distinguishing dhamma, vinnana, citta, cetasika, nama, and sankhara, these things are best left untranslated to avoid the ambiguity of using translations like concepts, consciousnesses, mental objects, mental states, etc.. But kusala and akusala can be pretty easily translated as wholesome and unwholesome, hetu and ahetu can easily be translated as "with cause" or "with root" and "causeless" or "rootless". I don't understand why she writes that way.

To understand what I mean, so I don't just seem like I'm being unjustly critical or arrogant, I suggest looking at the way the Arahant, Nagasena, speaks in the Milinda-Panha. He is very creative, very eloquent, and so he doesn't just repeat what the Pali canon says verbatim. Through speaking like this, there is insight to be gained from what he says, because he actually seems to know what he's talking about, not just memorizing and reciting rhetorical patterns. As another example, instead of using Nina van Gorkum, go see if you can get Namdrol on e-Sangha to discuss Abhidhamma. There's another case where he doesn't really seem to know anything (unless he's changed greatly, which is entirely possible), but he's collected a considerable amount of mundane knowledge through mundane study, which will be gone, at death. This is very different from Retrofuturist, another example, who hasn't done very much study, but has considerable insight which will remain after death. And so, Retrofuturist speaks very clearly, not attaching to speaking in elaborate, complex, or foreign terminology.
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: What is the "life-principle"? (Jivitindriya)

Postby piotr » Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:42 pm

Hi,

bhante Bodhi writes in his footnote to the Jīvitindriya-sutta (SN 48.22):

    The life faculty (jīvitindriya) is another type of derivative form, responsible for maintaining consent physical phenomena. It is defined at Dhs §635 and Vibh 123 and commented on at As 323 and Vism 447 (Ppn 14:59).
Last edited by piotr on Sun Jan 25, 2009 8:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the "life-principle"? (Jivitindriya)

Postby Element » Sat Jan 24, 2009 11:40 pm

Individual wrote: And is there some similar notion to "Qi" or "Prana" in Theravada?

Dear Individual

MN 43 discusses the 'ayu', which appears the same as the 'jivata'.

"When this body lacks how many qualities does it lie discarded & forsaken, like a senseless log?"

"When this body lacks these three qualities — vitality (ayu), heat & consciousness — it lies discarded & forsaken like a senseless log."

"What is the difference between one who is dead, who has completed his time and a monk who has attained the cessation of perception & feeling?"

"In the case of the one who is dead, who has completed his time, his bodily fabricator has ceased & subsided, his verbal fabricator ... his mental fabricator have ceased & subsided, his vitality is exhausted, his heat subsided & his faculties are scattered. But in the case of a monk who has attained the cessation of perception & feeling, his bodily fabricator has ceased & subsided, his verbal fabricator ... his mental fabricator has ceased & subsided, his vitality is not exhausted, his heat has not subsided & his faculties are exceptionally clear. This is the difference between one who is dead, who has completed his time and a monk who has attained the cessation of perception & feeling."

The above quote shows the ayu is not the same as the prana. The prana is the bodily fabricator.

With metta

Element
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Re: What is the "life-principle"? (Jivitindriya)

Postby Individual » Sat Jan 24, 2009 11:54 pm

Element wrote:
Individual wrote: And is there some similar notion to "Qi" or "Prana" in Theravada?

Dear Individual

MN 43 discusses the 'ayu', which appears the same as the 'jivata'.

"When this body lacks how many qualities does it lie discarded & forsaken, like a senseless log?"

"When this body lacks these three qualities — vitality (ayu), heat & consciousness — it lies discarded & forsaken like a senseless log."

"What is the difference between one who is dead, who has completed his time and a monk who has attained the cessation of perception & feeling?"

"In the case of the one who is dead, who has completed his time, his bodily fabricator has ceased & subsided, his verbal fabricator ... his mental fabricator have ceased & subsided, his vitality is exhausted, his heat subsided & his faculties are scattered. But in the case of a monk who has attained the cessation of perception & feeling, his bodily fabricator has ceased & subsided, his verbal fabricator ... his mental fabricator has ceased & subsided, his vitality is not exhausted, his heat has not subsided & his faculties are exceptionally clear. This is the difference between one who is dead, who has completed his time and a monk who has attained the cessation of perception & feeling."

The above quote shows the ayu is not the same as the prana. The prana is the bodily fabricator.

With metta

Element

Element, the sutta you just cited, as I read it, seems to suggest that even after an Arahant is dead (reaching parinibbana), he is still warm, conscious, and alive. The "deathless". :)
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
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Re: What is the "life-principle"? (Jivitindriya)

Postby Element » Sat Jan 24, 2009 11:54 pm

Bhikkhus, there are these three faculties. What three? The feminity faculty, the masculinity faculty, the life faculty. These are three faculties.

SN 48.22
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Re: What is the "life-principle"? (Jivitindriya)

Postby Element » Sat Jan 24, 2009 11:57 pm

Individual wrote:Element, the sutta you just cited, as I read it, seems to suggest that even after an Arahant is dead (reaching parinibbana), he is still warm, conscious, and alive. The "deathless". :)

Hi Individual,

I am unsure about what you are saying. Maybe Dhammanando, Retrofuturist and Apiccatto can provide their opinion on it.

With metta

Element
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Re: What is the "life-principle"? (Jivitindriya)

Postby Dhammanando » Sun Jan 25, 2009 5:25 am

Hi Individual,

Individual wrote:Element, the sutta you just cited, as I read it, seems to suggest that even after an Arahant is dead (reaching parinibbana), he is still warm, conscious, and alive. The "deathless". :)


You are misreading the passage. It's the living arahant in nirodha-samāpati whose body retains its heat (though seeming like a corpse in most other respects), whereas real corpses just go cold.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
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Re: What is the "life-principle"? (Jivitindriya)

Postby Element » Sun Jan 25, 2009 6:27 am

Dhammanando wrote:Hi Element,

Individual wrote:Element, the sutta you just cited, as I read it, seems to suggest that even after an Arahant is dead (reaching parinibbana), he is still warm, conscious, and alive. The "deathless". :)


You are misreading the passage. It's the living arahant in nirodha-samāpati whose body retains its heat (though seeming like a corpse in most other respects), whereas real corpses just go cold.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

Hi Dhammanando Bhikkhu

You are misreading the forum. It's Individual who held an arahant retains its heat after death, thus "the deathless".

Best wishes

Element
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Re: What is the "life-principle"? (Jivitindriya)

Postby Dhammanando » Sun Jan 25, 2009 6:34 am

Hi Element,

Element wrote:You are misreading the forum. It's Individual who held an arahant retains its heat after death, thus "the deathless".


Whoops, sorry about that. Edited out.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: What is the "life-principle"? (Jivitindriya)

Postby Element » Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:39 am

Individual wrote:Element, the sutta you just cited, as I read it, seems to suggest that even after an Arahant is dead (reaching parinibbana), he is still warm, conscious, and alive. The "deathless". :)

Thank you Individual,

This is possibly a subtle matter you have raised. Fortunately, Dhammanando came to the rescue again.

Kind regards,

Element
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Re: What is the "life-principle"? (Jivitindriya)

Postby Individual » Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:31 am

Dhammanando wrote:Hi Individual,

Individual wrote:Element, the sutta you just cited, as I read it, seems to suggest that even after an Arahant is dead (reaching parinibbana), he is still warm, conscious, and alive. The "deathless". :)


You are misreading the passage. It's the living arahant in nirodha-samāpati whose body retains its heat (though seeming like a corpse in most other respects), whereas real corpses just go cold.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

Thanks, Dhammanando.

I don't like this teaching... Arahants are like warm, living corpses -- like zombies? (No offense intended)
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
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Re: What is the "life-principle"? (Jivitindriya)

Postby Dhammanando » Mon Jan 26, 2009 4:04 am

Hi Individual,

Individual wrote:
Dhammanando wrote:I don't like this teaching... Arahants are like warm, living corpses -- like zombies?


No, the Sutta isn't talking about the normal condition of a living arahant. It's talking about a rare samadhi state that certain arahants and non-returners can enter for a limited period of time. While in this state breathing stops, as do all mental processes.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: What is the "life-principle"? (Jivitindriya)

Postby Element » Mon Jan 26, 2009 5:28 am

Individual wrote:I don't like this teaching... Arahants are like warm, living corpses -- like zombies? (No offense intended)

Individual

I still think you may possibly have a point. It is said when arahants die and are cremated, their bones turn into jewels. Maybe their life force or jiva does remain in their bones causing this to happen.

I wonder what Venerable Dhammanando thinks? Dhammanando would have heard about these stories in Thailand.

Kind regards

Element
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Re: What is the "life-principle"? (Jivitindriya)

Postby Dhammanando » Mon Jan 26, 2009 5:45 am

Hi Element,

Element wrote:I still think you may possibly have a point. It is said when arahants die and are cremated, their bones turn into jewels. Maybe their life force or jiva does remain in their bones causing this to happen.

I wonder what Venerable Dhammanando thinks? Dhammanando would have heard about these stories in Thailand.


I'm pretty sceptical about it. There is no mention in the Suttas of the Buddha's remains looking any different to those of anyone else, nor of the relics of his arahant disciples. Also, this sort of thing would be dead easy to fake, and among the less scrupulous followers of a teacher there are strong worldly incentives to do so. For example, someone on the lay committee which manages a wat might have hopes that the wat will become a future pilgrimage site; so he hides some crystals in the coffin before the cremation, knowing that gullible folk will take their later "discovery" as a sign that the monk was an arahant.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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