What is bhavangacitta?

Discussion of Abhidhamma and related Commentaries

Moderator: Mahavihara moderator

User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 1805
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm
Location: Whitby, Canada

What is bhavangacitta?

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Dec 18, 2016 3:49 am

So I have an idea of what is being talked about in the literature when bhavangacitta is discussed, but does anyone know what commentarial and Abhidhammic literature deals directly with giving what is probably a more accurate and concise definition of bhavangacitta than what I have been able to piece together as an amatuer?

At one point I thought it was the same thing as the re-linking consciousness but it seems that its sort of a word for "what is experienced when nothing sensory is being experienced", like in deep sleep when you don't remember sleeping upon awakening. But that is a very vague and tenuous definition and one that I am sure I have gotten either completely wrong or somewhat wrong having missed a nuance or two or many.

So what is bhavangacitta?

*ideally I would like this to be informative for me and others reading this thread who have the same questions as me, so please don't make this into a debate about whether or not Abhidhamma is 'real' Buddhadharma*
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

User avatar
Mkoll
Posts: 6440
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:55 pm
Location: California

Re: What is bhavangacitta?

Post by Mkoll » Sun Dec 18, 2016 4:04 am

Coëmgenu wrote:*ideally I would like this to be informative for me and others reading this thread who have the same questions as me, so please don't make this into a debate about whether or not Abhidhamma is 'real' Buddhadharma*
To avoid that, perhaps a mod could move this thread to the Classical Theravada sub-forum, "A forum for members who wish to develop a deeper understanding of the Pali Canon and associated Commentaries, which for discussion purposes are both treated as authoritative."
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

SarathW
Posts: 10156
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: What is bhavangacitta?

Post by SarathW » Sun Dec 18, 2016 4:09 am

You find a quick reference here. If you need details explanation please read Bikkhu Bodhi's book for which I do not have the link readily available.

=========

The mind occurs in both passive and active modes. The passive gives way to the active when a
stimulus is received through one of the sense doors. The passive state of mind is called
bhavaṅga, cuti, or paṭisandhi, according to the occasion.


https://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh322.pdf
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

SarathW
Posts: 10156
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: What is bhavangacitta?

Post by SarathW » Sun Dec 18, 2016 4:10 am

The question I have is whether Arahant also possess Bhavanga Citta.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 1805
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm
Location: Whitby, Canada

Re: What is bhavangacitta?

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Dec 18, 2016 4:22 am

SarathW wrote:The question I have is whether Arahant also possess Bhavanga Citta.
My answer, devoid of any honest authority, to that, welcomed or unwelcomed, would depend on if my conception of bhavangacitta as "experience when nothing is experienced, yet not authentic cessation" is at all accurate. If it is, yes, it would seem. If it isn't, I haven't the foggiest.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16460
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: What is bhavangacitta?

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Dec 18, 2016 4:24 am

Coëmgenu wrote: So what is bhavangacitta?

*ideally I would like this to be informative for me and others reading this thread who have the same questions as me, so please don't make this into a debate about whether or not Abhidhamma is 'real' Buddhadharma*
I'd start with Bhikkhu Bodhi's A Comprehensive Manual of the Abhidhamma: The Abhidhammatthasangaha of Acariya Anuruddha.
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=826
There's a free PDF at that link.

I've moved this to the Abhidhamma Forum, so that the Abhidhamma and Commentaries are authoritative for the purpose of this discussion...

:anjali:
Mike

User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 1805
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm
Location: Whitby, Canada

Re: What is bhavangacitta?

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Dec 18, 2016 4:27 am

Mkoll wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:*ideally I would like this to be informative for me and others reading this thread who have the same questions as me, so please don't make this into a debate about whether or not Abhidhamma is 'real' Buddhadharma*
To avoid that, perhaps a mod could move this thread to the Classical Theravada sub-forum, "A forum for members who wish to develop a deeper understanding of the Pali Canon and associated Commentaries, which for discussion purposes are both treated as authoritative."
I don't think traditional Buddhism should be quartered off and sequestered to a "special interest" area of this forum. I am not asking a question about the words of a great Thera or the official doctrine of Mahāvihāra, I am simply asking a question about Buddhism, and trusting that my peers here can respect the intentions and topic-matter of threads when they are specified. In short, I don't conceive of this as a "classical Theravāda" question. One can be completely modernist and reconstructionist and still see the wisdom in the Abhidhamma just as a traditional Buddhist can.

And yet it has been sequestered nonetheless as of my writing.
mikenz66 wrote:I've moved this to the Abhidhamma Forum, so that the Abhidhamma and Commentaries are authoritative for the purpose of this discussion...
I won't object to it, the moving, I mean, but I have reservations about the tendencies that has caused it to be moved.
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Sun Dec 18, 2016 4:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16460
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: What is bhavangacitta?

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Dec 18, 2016 4:29 am

From the CMA:
Bhikkhu Bodhi's notes to III.8, P122 of the PDF I mentioned above:
(2) Life-continuum (bhavanga): The word bhavanga means factor
(anga) of existence (bhava), that is, the indispensable condition of
existence. Bhavanga is the function of consciousness by which the
continuity of the individual is preserved through the duration of any
single existence, from conception to death. After the paμisandhicitta has
arisen and fallen away, it is then followed by the bhavangacitta, which
is a resultant consciousness of the same type as the paμisandhicitta but
which performs a different function, namely, the function of preserving
the continuity of the individual existence. Bhavangacittas arise and pass
away every moment during life whenever there is no active cognitive
process taking place. This type of consciousness is most evident during
deep dreamless sleep, but it also occurs momentarily during waking life
countless times between occasions of active cognition.

When an object impinges on a sense door, the bhavanga is arrested
and an active cognitive process ensues for the purpose of cognizing the
object. Immediately after the cognitive process is completed, again the
bhavanga supervenes and continues until the next cognitive process
arises. Arising and perishing at every moment during this passive phase
of consciousness, the bhavanga flows on like a stream, without remaining
static for two consecutive moments.
:anjali:
Mike

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16460
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: What is bhavangacitta?

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Dec 18, 2016 4:34 am

Coëmgenu wrote:
Mkoll wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:*ideally I would like this to be informative for me and others reading this thread who have the same questions as me, so please don't make this into a debate about whether or not Abhidhamma is 'real' Buddhadharma*
To avoid that, perhaps a mod could move this thread to the Classical Theravada sub-forum, "A forum for members who wish to develop a deeper understanding of the Pali Canon and associated Commentaries, which for discussion purposes are both treated as authoritative."
I don't think traditional Buddhism should be quartered off and sequestered to a "special interest" area of this forum. I am not asking a question about the words of a great Thera or the official doctrine of Mahāvihāra, I am simply asking a question about Buddhism, and trusting that my peers here can respect the intentions and topic-matter of threads when they are specified. In short, I don't conceive of this as a "classical Theravāda" question. One can be completely modernist and reconstructionist and still see the wisdom in the Abhidhamma just as a traditional Buddhist can.

And yet it has been sequestered nonetheless as of my writing.
mikenz66 wrote:I've moved this to the Abhidhamma Forum, so that the Abhidhamma and Commentaries are authoritative for the purpose of this discussion...
I won't object to it, the moving, I mean, but I have reservations about the tendencies that has caused it to be moved.
We have this section precisely to keep discussions about Abhidhamma on topic, as you requested in the OP.

Also, this is rather key Abdhidhamma question, and it makes sense to have questions related to Abhidhamma collected together for useful reference.

:anjali:
Mike

User avatar
Coëmgenu
Posts: 1805
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:55 pm
Location: Whitby, Canada

Re: What is bhavangacitta?

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Dec 18, 2016 4:37 am

mikenz66 wrote: We have this section precisely to keep discussions about Abhidhamma on topic, as you requested in the OP.

Also, this is rather key Abdhidhamma question, and it makes sense to have questions related to Abhidhamma collected together for useful reference.
I am not objecting, it just seems a shame the necessity for a special Abhidhamma sub-forum on account of the tendency for threads involving Abhidhammic discourse to be hijacked by polemicists. I am thankful for the resources provided though, and will read them tomorrow probably, on my commute.
世尊在靈山會上拈華示眾眾皆默然唯迦葉破顏微笑世尊云
The Lord dwelt at the Vulture Peak with the assembly and plucked a flower as a teaching. The myriad totality were silent, save for Kāśyapa, whose face cracked in a faint smile. The Lord spoke.
吾有正法眼藏涅槃妙心實相無相微妙法門不立文字教外別傳付囑摩訶迦葉。
I have the treasure of the true dharma eye, I have nirvāṇa as wondrous citta, I know signless dharmatā, the subtle dharma-gate, which is not standing on written word, which is external to scriptures, which is a special dispensation, which is entrusted to Mahākāśyapa.

नस्वातोनापिपरतोनद्वाभ्यांनाप्यहेतुतः

User avatar
cjmacie
Posts: 690
Joined: Wed Dec 26, 2012 4:49 am

Re: What is bhavangacitta?

Post by cjmacie » Sun Dec 18, 2016 4:39 am

Good in-depth article by scholar Rupert Gethin:
"Bhavaṅga and Rebirth According to the Abhidhamma"
http://www.shin-ibs.edu/documents/bForu ... Gethin.pdf

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 16460
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: What is bhavangacitta?

Post by mikenz66 » Sun Dec 18, 2016 4:44 am

These threads discuss possible connections between the Abhidhamma bhavanghacitta and the storehouse consciousness concept found in some Mahayana contexts:

Continuity of kamma = contuinity of consciousness? http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?t=24951
Kamma, Vipaka and Rebirth http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?t=21076

:anjali:
Mike


User avatar
Dhamma_Basti
Posts: 116
Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2013 9:53 am

Re: What is bhavangacitta?

Post by Dhamma_Basti » Wed May 17, 2017 11:54 pm

A little bit more recently William Waldron devoted a whole chapter of his book "The Buddhist Unconscious: The Alaya-vijñana in the context of Indian Buddhist Thought" on the bhavaṅga-citta in theravāda-abdhidhamma. I found it very worth reading.
My blog on buddhism, languages and programming.

User avatar
robertk
Posts: 2915
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:08 am

Re: What is bhavangacitta?

Post by robertk » Thu May 18, 2017 10:12 am

Dhamma_Basti wrote:A little bit more recently William Waldron devoted a whole chapter of his book "The Buddhist Unconscious: The Alaya-vijñana in the context of Indian Buddhist Thought" on the bhavaṅga-citta in theravāda-abdhidhamma. I found it very worth reading.
I think these Mahayana people should study the Patthana - last book of the Abhidhamma- before they make misguided statements like this ( from the book )
l
aims, within which alone it was
meaningful and coherent.
The Abhidharma project as a whole is thus at stake here. And it is at stake
because Abhidharma theory cannot fully account for all the unmanifest factors
“bound along” (anubandhu) in the mental stream that virtually constitute indi-
vidual samsaric existence. It was this tension between these two levels of analysis
and discourse, focused upon the momentary and continuous processes of mind,
respectively, that foreshadowed and – in large part – stimulated the conceptual-
ization of the alaya-vijñana. For it is the stream that carries all the seeds and
thereby insures doctrinal as well as empirical coherence.131 Yet this stream can-
not constitute any “ultimate account of continuity” (Collins), since ultimate
validity is preserved exclusively for momentary dharmas. To overcome these
problems, while simultaneously preserving the synchronic analysis of momentary
and discrete dharmas developed by generations of scholars and adepts, the
metaphors of the stream and its seeds needed
t

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 6 guests