The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal » Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:37 pm

Cloning and Gandhabba

Introduction – Cloning of Dolly the Sheep

1. Cloning of various types of animals has become common since Dolly was cloned in 1996. Three sheep contributed to the birth of Dolly. One provided the egg, another the DNA (donor), and a third (surrogate mother) carried the cloned embryo to term.

- Obviously, a clone has the most similarities with the donor and there is no “father” involved (no sperm is needed). Are these consistent with the Buddha Dhamma, and how does a gandhabba play a role?
- Also, there are some myths associated with cloning, such as whether “totally unexpected creatures or monsters” can result from cloning.
- Therefore, it is good to review the key steps in the cloning process and to clarify these issues.

What Happens in a Normal Conception?

2. But, first, we need to look at what happens in a “normal conception” where an egg and a sperm combine to form the unique cell called a zygote. This was explained in the previous post, “Buddhist Explanations of Conception, Abortion, and Contraception“. Here, we will first extend that discussion.

- The “material base” for a new life is a zygote. In a natural conception, the zygote is formed by the fertilization of a female egg by a sperm from a male. Then a gandhabba can come into the womb and provide the “mental basis” for the new life, as explained in the above post.
- There are two things REQUIRED to make a zygote. The first requirement is the egg that comes from the mother and is unique. However, eggs have only 23 chromosomes instead of 46 chromosomes in all other cells. Therefore, the second requirement is to somehow have 46 chromosomes in the nucleus of an egg.
- Let us discuss the two factors in a bit more detail since this was not discussed in the previous post.

An Egg Is Unique

3. Eggs are the most remarkable of cells. They can give rise to a completely new individual within a matter of days or weeks in some animals. No other cell in a higher animal has this ability. Egg cells also contain many mitochondria which supply the energy required for cell replication and division.

- However, an egg must be “activated” first in order to start the cell division process. It is activated only when its nucleus has a full complement of 46 chromosomes or 23 pairs.
- You can read more about the role of the egg at, “How Does a Single Cell Become a Whole Body?“: ... whole-body

Activation of the Egg by the Presence of 46 Chromosomes

4. Now, to the second factor. Most cells in a body have 23 pairs of chromosomes, for a total of 46. The egg and sperm are different. Each egg and each sperm has only one set of 23 chromosomes, not a pair.

- When fertilization occurs in normal conception, the 23 chromosomes from the egg combine with the 23 from the sperm to create a zygote or a fertilized egg with the full complement of 23 pairs of chromosomes. This is shown in the following diagram (courtesy of Shutterstock):


- In this case of normal conception, those two nuclei from mother and father will combine to form a single nucleus in the yellow cell (egg), which is now the zygote.
- So, we see that in normal conception, the nucleus of the zygote — or the result of the merger of the egg with the sperm — will be a cell with a nucleus that has half chromosomes from the mother and the other half from the father. Thus, DNA from mother and father BOTH contribute to the zygote in normal conception. This is why the baby will have bodily features from both parents (a mix).

Science Cannot Explain Why Some Zygotes Are “Duds”

5. When the above process is complete, the egg becomes a zygote. At this point, the cell division is supposed to activate. However, some zygotes do not activate and thus do not lead to a fetus or a baby.

- Scientists do not know why the zygotes formed by the union of some couples do not lead to cell division, i.e., why certain couples cannot have babies.

It Is a Gandhabba That “Activates” the Zygote!

6. The only difference in Buddha Dhamma is that the cell division starts ONLY IF (and when) a gandhabba descends to the womb and merges with that zygote.

- A new animal or human life cannot be initiated without a gandhabba (or the “mental body” or “manōmaya kāya“.)
- In the case of a natural conception, the matching gandhabba (or patisandhi viññāna) will descend to the womb and will be merged with that fertilized egg to complete the conception. However, if a previous kamma vipaka for the mother and father does not allow a conception, a gandhabba WILL NOT be drawn into the womb.
- Otherwise, a matching gandhabba with gati that are a mix of gati of mother and father will be drawn into the womb. That is why a child is likely to have gati which are a mix of the two parents. That is in addition to having physical features of the parents.

A Gandhabba (Mental Body) Makes the Zygote Alive

7. Without the “mental component” or the gandhabba, there is no life! A zygote is an inert cell and has no “sentient life”. The zygote that results from the merger of the egg and the sperm is just the “material base” and not a “new life”.

- It is only when the gandhabba descends to the womb and takes possession of that zygote that it “becomes alive”.

The Procedure of Cloning Versus Natural Conception

8. The zygote formation is different in cloning compared to the natural conception. In the case of cloning, a sperm from a father is not involved.

- Here the nucleus of the egg is REMOVED, and the nucleus of the “donor cell” with the full set of 46 chromosomes is INSERTED in the egg. That is the key difference in cloning. So, now the nucleus of the egg has the full set of chromosomes needed to start cell division. The basic process involved in cloning is nicely represented by the following diagram:


9. However, it seems that is not enough to initiate the cell division. An electric shock is required to activate the process (i.e., to initiate cell division of this artificially created zygote.) This is the second difference compared to the natural process.

- Therefore, the artificially modified egg is placed in the womb of the surrogate mother, and an electrical shock is applied to start the cell division.
- The above figure is from the article, “20 years after Dolly: Everything you always wanted to know about the cloned sheep and what came next”:[html] ... came-next/[/html] You may want to read that article too.

A Gandhabba Is Still Needed in Cloning

10. Even though that is the whole picture according to science, Buddha Dhamma says, there MUST be a gandhabba merging with that cell in order to “give it life”.

- Just like in the case of natural conception we discussed above, there is no “new life” created with cloning. It just created a suitable “temporary home” for the gandhabba.
- When that physical body dies, the gandhabba would come out and wait for another womb to be ready. Dolly has now died and it is possible that she was reborn as another sheep somewhere.

Genetic Material Is From One Cell in Cloning

11. The main thing from the above figure in #8 on cloning for our discussion is that the yellow cell is the egg from the mother. The other cell on the top is from the “donor.” It is not sperm but any kind of cell. No sperm is in the picture. Instead of half the genetic material coming from sperm and half from an egg, it all comes from a single cell.

- The unique feature of the egg from the mother is that it allows the growth of a whole animal (with many body parts for doing very different things) just starting with that single cell.
- However, the egg needs to have a full set of 46 chromosomes to form the zygote. In cloning, the whole set comes from the “donor” as shown in the above figure. In a natural conception, half of the chromosomes come from the mother (egg), and the other half comes from the father (sperm), as shown in the figure above in #4.
- When an egg starts cell division, it splits — first into 2, then 4, then 8, 16, 32, 64, and so on — it is not merely splitting. It is a complex process that produces descendant cells with a huge variety of shapes and functions: bone cells, nerve cells, red and white blood cells; the cells of the eyes, fingernails, stomach, skin, etc.

More Information From Scientific Studies

12. Now, in the case of cloning, the following should be clear, according to science:

- The mother that provides the egg, provides the all-important platform for cell division that leads to the formation of the new offspring.
- However, 99% of the DNA comes from the donor. Therefore, the physical resemblance of the offspring would be to the donor, as is the case with Dolly the sheep.
- The surrogate mother who carries the embryo to term would provide no real contribution to the physical appearance of the offspring, according to science.

No “Monsters” Will be Created With Cloning

13. Studies done over the past 20 years with different types of animals show that:

- Some people are afraid that cloning can lead to unexpected outcomes like “creating monsters.” However, from the above discussion, it is clear that monstrous creatures cannot be expected to form due to cloning. This is because the source of DNA is the donor. Therefore, the clone will look like the donor.
- It is not possible to clone an animal that is identical to the donor. Even if they look similar, their character traits are different.
- The success rate is low, around 10%.
- Those are observations from the cloning studies over the past 20 years. They are consistent with our picture of the gandhabba having gati close to that of the donor. No two animals can be the same. In the case of natural birth, gandhabba‘s gati will be close to those of both parents.

Additional Points From Buddha Dhamma

14. That is pretty much the picture in Buddha Dhamma too, but with the following exceptions:

- All three involved in the cloning process would contribute to some extent to the “mental qualities” in selecting a matching gandhabba (which happens automatically.) However, the major contribution is likely to come from the donor.
- Of course, we can only make a guess, since the Buddha never had to explain this particular case. The Buddha specifically mentioned that the “mental state of the mother” at the time of gandhabba descending to the womb is a factor. This is why even the most moral mother may, in a few cases, end up with a baby who turns out to have immoral gati.
- Therefore, the surrogate mother — within whose womb the actual descending of the gandhabba would occur — could play some minor role in determining the behavior of the baby, but not the physical appearance, i.e., the developing embryo would be affected by the mood and health of the surrogate mother.

Conclusion – New Life Cannot Be Created

15. The word “clone” is defined as, “an organism or cell produced asexually from one ancestor or stock, to which they are genetically identical.”

- However, a clone will NEVER be exactly the same as the “donor.” They are two different “lifestreams.” The Buddha taught that each lifestream has existed “forever” and we discussed Tipitaka references in, “Origin of Life – There is No Traceable Origin.” published on Jun 29, 2019: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&p=518755#p518755
- All living beings in existence now have been in the rebirth process forever. The Buddha said that there is no discernible beginning to any living being.

16. The main point from Buddha Dhamma is that a new life cannot be created by any means, whether in a laboratory or anywhere in the universe. This is the only inconsistency with science here, and it is a major inconsistency.

- Living beings just keep switching from realm to realm, but most are trapped in the lower realms. While in the human or animal realms, they spend a lot of time as gandhabbas; see, “Gandhabba – Only in Human and Animal Realms“: ... al-realms/
- So, an animal like Dolly would be switching from a “sheep gandhabba” to a sheep to a “sheep gandhabba” to a sheep…until the kammic energy for the “sheep bhava” or “sheep existence” runs out.
- When the kammic energy for the “sheep bhava” runs out, it will grasp another existence. There is no end to this process until reaching the Arahanthood.
- So, I hope it is clear that cloning itself is consistent with Buddha Dhamma, and specifically with the concept of gandhabba.
- We will continue the discussion on Paticca Samuppāda in the next post.

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal » Sun Jan 12, 2020 12:24 pm

Paticca Samuppāda – From Mind to Matter

Where is the “Mind-to-Matter” Step in Paticca Samuppāda?

1. Akusala-mula Paticca Samuppāda starts with “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra” and ends with “bhava paccayā jāti, jāti paccayā jarā, marana,..”

- The first step involves generating defiled thoughts (manō, vaci, and kāya saṅkhāra) due to avijjā (not being aware of the Four Noble Truths.) In the end, that leads to births of physical bodies (jāti) that will then undergo old age and death.
- How do thoughts lead to the births of human beings and other living beings?

Javana Citta Create Energy!

2. I laid the foundation for this post in a recent post, “Dhammā, Kamma, Saṅkhāra, Mind – Critical Connections.” Please review that as needed.

- The critical point is that our thoughts (specifically javana citta) CREATE energy! That may be hard to believe.
- Even a few hundred years ago, many people thought that the Buddha taught some other things that were “hard to believe.” For example, Buddha taught that there are an uncountable number of planetary systems like our Solar system in the universe. However, before Galileo invented the telescope, people believed that Earth was at the center of the universe! See the “Geocentric model.”:
- Even after reading the previous post mentioned above, many of you may not have caught on to the fact that the mind creates energy. And that is what leads to the “arising of physical bodies” in future existences (rebirths.) You may want to read that post after reading this one, and things will become more clear.

Thoughts Create “Seeds” That Can Give Rise to Physical Bodies

3. In that previous post, we discussed that such minute amounts of energies created by our thoughts are PART OF dhammā (with a long “a” at the end.)

- Of course, such minute amounts of energy cannot DIRECTLY create massive/dense bodies like ours.
- When a living being grasps a new existence (bhava), only a “mental body” or “manōmaya kāya” for the new life appears. It is a “mental body” since it is mostly mental with only a trace of matter. Very little kammic energy is enough to create that “mental body.”
- This “mental body” or “manōmaya kāya” is the same as a gandhabba or a “patisandhi viññāṇa.” One creates one’s future via one’s saṅkhāra (i.e., the way oneTHINKS). Paticca Samuppāda describes that process.
- That is why it is CRITICAL to understand the previous three posts: “Dhammā, Kamma, Saṅkhāra, Mind – Critical Connections,” “Buddhist Explanations of Conception, Abortion, and Contraception,” and “Cloning and Gandhabba.”

4. The word “kāya” in Buddha Dhamma means a “collection.” Thus, this “body” that is created by kammic energy consists mostly of the four “mental aggregates.” It has only a trace of matter (much smaller than an atom in modern science.)

- However, it has all five aggregates of rūpa, vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa. Of course, the “rūpa kāya” is unbelievable small, but the “four mental aggregates are the same as those experienced by a living person with a physical body.
- That “mental body” or “manōmaya kāya” is the same as gandhabba! However, after the initial formation, gandhabba can “solidify” somewhat by “taking in scents or aroma.” Hence the name “gandhabba” (“gandha” + “abba” or “taking in scents.”)
- For details on gandhabba, see, “Mental Body – Gandhabba” at or "Gandhabba State – Evidence from Tipitaka" on Oct 28, 2018 (p.43).

It is Kamma Viññāṇa That Sets Up Energy for a New Existence (Bhava)

5. There are no “rūpa” in PS steps up to “viññāṇa.” As we have discussed, a kamma viññāṇa that arises via “saṅkhāra paccayā viññāṇa” is a type of “rūpa” because it has “energy.” As Einstein showed with his famous equation, E = mc^2, energy is also a manifestation of matter. Again, see “Dhammā, Kamma, Saṅkhāra, Mind – Critical Connections.”

- Then at the next step, there is “nāmarūpa.” That is where a conventional “rūpa” becomes “live.” That is precisely what happens when a “patisandhi viññāṇa descends to a womb” and makes an inert zygote become alive! That occurs at the “viññāṇa paccayā nāmarūpa” step in Uppatti PS.
- The post “Buddhist Explanations of Conception, Abortion, and Contraception” explains how a “patisandhi viññāṇa” leads to the creation of a “new human body.”
- Sexual intercourse only creates the “material basis” for a new life. An egg (from the mother) combines with sperm (from the father) to form a single cell, a zygote. That zygote is inert (a rūpa), just like the egg and the sperm. An existing “mental body” or a gandhabba (nāma with energy) needs to merge with that zygote to form the nāmarūpa or the fetus (with mind and body).
- Sexual intercourse is not necessary to form the zygote or the “material base” for a new “physical body.” A zygote can be created in a laboratory, but still requires eggs from the mother; see, “Cloning and Gandhabba.”

Nāmarūpa Paccayā Salāyatana” in Uppatti Paticca Samuppāda

6. That “live person” or the fetus will grow for nine months to complete the formation of all six sensory faculties. That is the “nāmarūpa paccayā salāyatana” step in uppatti PS. As we know, “salāyatana” represents the “six sensory faculties” of a living being with a “body and mind.”

- Therefore, the transition starts with the step “saṅkhāra paccayā viññāṇa,” Then, it goes through the “viññāṇa paccayā nāmarūpa” step, before finalizing the formation of a “human with six sensory faculties” at the “nāmarūpa paccayā salāyatana” step.
- However, it is essential to understand that a “patisandhi viññāṇa” leading to a rebirth must have been cultivated previously. Such a viññāṇa “builds up” over MANY “Idappaccayatā Paticca Samuppāda” cycles that take place DURING a life or even over many lives.

Example of an Alcoholic Making an “Animal Bhava

7. Let us consider an example to illustrate how one cultivates a patisandhi viññāṇa suitable for an animal over time. Let us consider an alcoholic/drug addict. I am not talking about a person who takes an occasional drink. Instead, this person has an addiction to alcohol or drugs.

- As we have discussed in recent posts on the Chachakka Sutta (MN 148), one starts thinking about a certain ārammana (in this case, drinking) when thought about that ārammana comes to mind as a vipāka viññāṇa. In this particular case, it could be seeing an alcohol bottle, hearing about an upcoming party, or just habitually remembering that “it is time to have a drink.”
- As explained in those posts, one’s mind quickly gets to “taṇhā” (or “getting stuck” in that ārammana.) Thus, a PS process would start at the “taṇhā paccayā upādāna” step. See, “Icchā (Cravings) Lead to Upādāna and to Eventual Suffering.”
- That is when one starts THINKING about that ārammana that came to the mind. That is the “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra” step of a new PS cycle.

Nāmarūpa in “Idappaccayatā Paticca Samuppāda” Are Just “Visuals”

8. Suppose the alcoholic/drug addict in our example is sitting at his desk at work. Due to his habit, an upcoming party may come to his mind via “manañca paṭicca dhammē ca uppajjati manōviññāṇaṃ.“

- Of course, he will be instantly “stuck in that ārammana,” and the “taṇhā paccayā upādāna” step in PS gets him started on “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra.” Thus, he starts thinking about the experience that he is going to have in the upcoming party. Those are vaci saṅkhāra.
- That leads to the arising of a viññāṇa (anticipation or the expectation of the possible enjoyments) via “saṅkhāra paccayā viññāṇa.” The javana citta in his thoughts start creating energy for that viññāṇa.
- That involves visualizing “party scenes” at the upcoming party and also his past experiences in similar situations. He will imagine the friends who will be there, what kind of alcohol, food, and other types of entertainment will be there. These are all “nāmarūpa” or visuals that arise in his mind. These nāmarūpa are very much like what we experience in a dream, just visuals.

Some of those Viññāṇa and Nāmarūpa Cultivated Could be Compatible with Animal Mindsets

9. Some of those viññāṇa and nāmarūpa cultivated by the alcoholic/drug addict in our example could be compatible with those of animals. That is a critical point.

- During some of these parties, alcohol or drug usage could get to extreme levels. Some people may pass out and could be unable to walk. They will be dragging themselves on the floor like animals.
- Some may be engaging in sexual misconduct. Such bodily actions are more potent than such cultivating vaci saṅkhāra. However, in most cases, it is the cultivation of vaci saṅkhāra (thinking about such activities with vitakka/vicāra) that lead to bodily actions.
- Both kinds of saṅkhāra lead to the growth of patisandhi viññāṇa suitable to bring about an animal birth in the future (in an Uppatti PS process.)

Nāmarūpa In “Viññāṇa Paccaya Nāmarūpa” Are Two Kinds

10. It is critical to note that the “nāmarūpa” discussed in #8 are different from those in #5.

- The nāmarūpa in #8 helps build that viññāṇa via the backward step, “nāmarūpa paccayā viññāṇa.” When the alcoholic is making those ‘visualizations,” he is cultivating that viññāṇa. Thus, each is helping grow the other. That often happens in “Idappaccayatā Paticca Samuppāda” cycles. See, "Nāmarūpa Paccayā Salāyatana in Idapaccayatā Paticca Samuppāda" posted on May 26, 2019: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&p=514169#p514169
- For example, Ven. Sariputta in the “Naḷakalāpī Sutta (SN 12.67)“: “Seyyathāpi, āvuso, dve naḷakalāpiyo aññamaññaṃ nissāya tiṭṭheyyuṃ. Evameva kho, āvuso, nāmarū¬pa paccayā viññāṇaṃ; viññāṇa paccayā nāmarūpaṃ;..” OR “Just as two sheaves of reeds might stand leaning against each other, so too, with nāmarūpa as condition, viññāṇa comes to be. With viññāṇa as condition, nāmarūpa comes to be..”
- On the other hand, the “viññāṇa paccayā nāmarūpa” step happens only once in uppatti PS cycles. That involves a special “patisandhi viññāṇa” (gandhabba.) When that patisandhi viññāṇa (or gandhabba) descends to the womb, it merges with the zygote and creates a new “nāmarūpa” or a “live fetus.” See, #5 above and the posts referred to there, “Buddhist Explanations of Conception, Abortion, and Contraception” and “Cloning and Gandhabba.”

It Is Important to Review Related/Past Posts Often

11. Another thing to remember is that even a given PS cycle does not proceed in just one direction. All those steps, as with many others in PS, go backward too. For example, “viññāṇa paccayā nāmarūpa” and “nāmarūpa paccayā viññāṇa” steps may go back and forth strengthening each other in many cases (see #8, #9 above.)

- I have explained this in several previous posts in this series: “Paticca Samuppāda – Not ‘Self’ or ‘No-Self’” A vital case discussed in the post “Tanhā Paccayā Upādāna – Critical Step in Paticca Samuppāda.”
- There is a lot to grasp in this post. Please make sure to read the related posts mentioned above, so that these concepts are well-understood.
- It is critical to have a good idea about these concepts to see how one makes one’s future rebirths. Furthermore, the type of rebirth CORRESPONDS to the kind of abhi(saṅkhāra) cultivated with “avijjā paccayā saṅkhāra.“
- That is how “mind to matter” transitions take place. And this is why the Buddha said that the mind is at the forefront.
- All relevant posts start with the post, “Origin of Life” on Jun 29, 2019: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&p=518755#p518755

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal » Sat Jan 18, 2020 11:48 am

Ghost 1990 Movie – Good Depiction of Gandhabba Concept


1. I have been trying to get across the concept of a gandhabba (or mental body or manōmaya kāya) over several years now. But I don’t think many readers have a good grasp of the concept. One critical problem is that sometimes it is tough to explain a new concept with just words.

- Then a couple of days ago, I remembered that 1990 movie “Ghost” that I had watched at that time. I only had a vague recollection of the film, so I watched it again. It became instantly clear to me that it would help me make “some key clarifications” with the aid of that movie. After watching the movie, I abandoned the post that I was writing and started on this post.
- A description of the movie and the plot is in the Wikipedia article “Ghost (1990 film)”: However, one MUST watch the movie and read the following discussion to be able to get a good understanding of the gandhabba concept. A free version of the full movie is available online.

The Background (Up to 23 Minutes)

2. From the above article: “Sam Wheat, a banker, and his girlfriend Molly Jensen, a potter, renovate and move into an apartment in Manhattan with the help of Sam’s friend and co-worker Carl Bruner. One afternoon, Sam confides in Carl his discovery of unusually high balances in obscure bank accounts. He decides to investigate the matter himself, declining Carl’s offer of assistance. That night, Sam and Molly are attacked by a mugger who shoots and kills Sam in a scuffle before stealing his wallet. Sam sees Molly crying over his body and discovers he is now a ghost, invisible and unable to interact with the mortal world.”

- The ghost, of course, is the gandhabba or the manōmaya kāya of Sam. The movie clearly shows some of the features of the gandhabba that I have tried to explain with words. When Sam dies, his gandhabba comes out of the dead body. Initially, he does not even realize that he has died. By the way, if one dies such a sudden death, there is no time to feel the physical pain.
- So, Sam is confused when he sees his dead body and his girlfriend, Molly, crying. It takes him a little while to realize what happened. He sees his own bloodied body held up by Molly. He tries to touch the body, and his fingers “go through the dead body.” We can disregard the next few moments showing the “white light” coming to “take him to heaven.” This will be discussed in #12 below.
- When a human dies suddenly by a gunshot, likely, his “bhava” will not change. So, Sam probably has more time left in the human bhava, but he now has to stay in the “gandhabba state” until a matching mother’s womb becomes available for his next human birth. See the post, "Bhava and Jāti – States of Existence and Births Therein" on Oct 27, 2018 (p. 43).
- In any case, according to the movie script, Sam’s mind is focused on Molly, and thus the “white light” goes back without him.

Gandhabba Is Not a “Scary Misty Ghost”

3. Many of you may have imagined that a gandhabba is like a “scary misty ghost” as depicted in popular cartoons. However, a gandhabba coming out of a body is a “complete imprint” of that human including the clothes that he/she had been wearing.

- Thus, Sam’s ghost or Sam’s gandhabba looks just like Sam when he died, complete with whatever he was wearing. That is part of the “utuja kāya” or the “fine body” around the “mental body.” That mental body by itself is just a few suddhātthaka.
- However, when that gandhabba is pulled into a womb, the utuja kāya is shed and only the “pure mental body” of a few suddhātthaka merge with the zygote in the womb. See the two recent posts, “Buddhist Explanations of Conception, Abortion, and Contraception” and “Cloning and Gandhabba.”

At the Hospital (Up to 26 minutes)

4. An ambulance takes Sam’s body to the hospital, and he keeps staying by the dead body trying to make sense of things. Of course, with that “mental body,” he can go anywhere he wishes.

- While he is sitting by his dead body, another gandhabba (old guy) comes and talks to him. They also watch another patient dying and his “ghost” or gandhabba taken to heaven with the “white light.” As the old guy says, most of the dead go to hell and not heaven. Then an attendant comes and takes his dead body “right through him.” That is what I try to say that a gandhabba has a “very subtle fine body.” It is just an “energy body” or a “force field.”
- His gandhabba body” has only a trace of matter. Solid objects can go right through, and “he” can go through solid objects!

Sam’s Ghost (Gandhabba) Learning About the Gandhabba World (Para Lōka) – (Up to 54 minutes)

5. Sam sees another “gandhabba woman” walking through a tombstone at his funeral. Later on, at Molly’s place, he goes “through a door” for the first time. Sam’s killer comes to Molly’s apartment, and Sam follows him back to the killers’ apartment. On the subway train ride, Sam meets a violent “subway ghost” who has learned how to move physical objects with mind power. Later on, Sam would learn from him how to focus mental energy and to move physical objects.

- That is possible per Buddha Dhamma. Even though most gandhabbas do not have such an ability, a few of them may also get such capability due to “puñña iddhi” or due to exceptional past kamma vipāka.

6. Anyway, Sam finds out that the name of his killer is Willie. In Willie’s neighborhood, Sam also meets psychic Oda Mae, a charlatan pretending to communicate with spirits of the dead. However, it turns out that Oda’s mother actually had such capabilities, and after the meeting with “Sam’s ghost,” Oda is also able to hear his voice.

- That is also possible per Buddha Dhamma. Some humans are born with puñña iddhi to be able to hear and/or see gandhabbas. It is possible that such accounts (over long periods) are responsible for the “cartoon versions” that we come across in books and movies such as this movie.
- Sam persuades Oda Mae to help him. They still have a hard time convincing Molly. But Molly is finally convinced by the personal details that Sam provides through Oda.

At this point, you may want to watch the movie. I will be revealing the whole stroyline from this point. If you want to enjoy the film, it is a good idea to finish watching the movie and then to read the rest of this post.

Sam’s Friend Carl – (Up to 72 minutes)

7. Molly decides to contact Carl, who was a friend and co-worker of Sam. She tells him that Sam’s ghost found out that his killer was Willie. Carl promises to check on that.

- Molly goes to the police, and they don’t believe the story either. The detective says there is no record on Willie, but Oda Mae has a history of deceiving people.
- Meanwhile, Carl goes to meet Willie and Sam follows him. Sam is shocked to find out that it was Carl who hired Willie. It turns out that Sam had a bank code in his wallet for an account that had four million dollars, and Carl wanted Willie to get Sam’s wallet. But things did not go as planned, and Willie shot and killed Sam.
- Later on, Carl goes back to Molly and tries to seduce her. Sam gets into a rage and lunges at Carl. Of course, he cannot make contact, but he was astonished to see that he was able to knock a picture off a table.

Sam’s Ghost Learns How to Make Bodily Contact – (Up to 78 minutes)

8. Sam then remembers the “subway ghost” who can move physical objects with mind power. He goes back to the subway and learns how to focus the mind power to move physical objects.

- In Buddha Dhamma, that is possible via cultivating jhāna. As we discussed before, there are rare cases where a gandhabba would be able to make physical contact via puñña iddhi. However, this aspect of the movie is unlikely to happen in real life.
- This is why it is not fun to be a gandhabba. Some gandhabbas (ghosts in the movie) can see and hear humans. But they are frustrated that they cannot touch, eat food, or smell like humans do. There is a scene in the movie where the “subway ghost” says he would give anything to smoke a cigarette (@ 76 minutes.)
- (I have mentioned in previous posts that a gandhabba can “take in various types of scents” and become a bit denser. That is a different mechanism than inhaling through the nose (a gandhabba only has an imprint of a nose and not a real nose.)

Mind Power – (Up to 78 minutes)

9. The “subway ghost” explains to Sam that he has no physical body even though he seems to be wearing clothes etc. He says, “you’ve got no body (meaning no physical body), son. It is all up here” and points to the head. (But of course, the seat of the mind is not in the head. It is close to where the physical heart normally is.)

- Subway ghost says, “If you want to move something, you’ve got to move it with your mind. You’ve got to focus all your anger, all your love, all your hate, and push from all the way here, from the middle of your stomach. And let it explode like a reactor.” (That turns out to be close to the right place!)
- That is a CRITICAL point. Even from our own experience, we know that when we try to do something hard, the “push” comes from the heart area, and not the head.
- The real power is in our thoughts (specifically javana citta.) That power can be highly focused when one is in a jhāna. But it is when one is in jhāna samapatti, that one can focus the mind power and even CREATE matter! You may want to re-read the post, "Mystical Phenomena in Buddhism?" on Jul 28, 2019 (p. 73):viewtopic.php?f=46&t=26749&p=523126#p523126

Oda Mae Is Now a Genuine Psychic Reader – (Up to 80 minutes)

10. Oda Mae is no longer a fake. She can make contact with many “ghosts” or gandhabbas in the para lōka. As you see, the para lōka co-exists with our the lōka; it is just that we cannot see those in the para lōka.

- However, she is now in trouble since Carl knows her identity. The story gets interesting now and there are no more “technical details” that need to be discussed here.
- If there are any questions, we can discuss them. This is a very complex subject, but I hope you get a general idea.

Other Relevant Points – Births in Different Realms

11. A human gandhabba (ghost in the movie) comes out of a dead body ONLY IF that person has more kammic energy left for human bhava. That is the case in many instances, especially if one dies by a gunshot as in this case.

- However, if the kammic energy for human bhava runs out at the moment of death, then an entirely different event takes place. Let us consider specific cases of a human dying and grasping an animal, Deva, and Brahma bhava.
- If the dying human grasps an animal bhava (say a dog), then instead of a “human ghost” it is a “dog ghost” or a “dog gandhabba” that comes out of the dead body. That “dog gandhabba” will not stay in that vicinity. It will be attracted to somewhere there are dogs with matching gati. Then it will stay there until a suitable womb becomes available, at which point it will be drawn into that womb.
- A very different thing happens if a Deva bhava is grasped by the dying human. In that case, there will no “ghost” or gandhabba coming out of the dead body. Instead, a full-blown Deva will appear in a matching Deva realm instantaneously. If a Brahma bhava is grasped, a Brahma will appear at the matching Brahma realm.
- What we discussed in that last bullet is a critical point. There is no “being” going from here to the Deva or Brahma realm (located far above the Earth.) The human dies here and Deva (or Brahma) is born there. Due to a past cause (kamma), a Deva or a Brahma is born at the appropriate location.

Other Misconceptions in the Movie

12. The movie shows that “good people” like Sam get to go to heaven (though the white light) and “bad people” like Carl and Willie are taken to hell by “hell beings.” But Buddha Dhamma has a different picture of rebirth.

- First, hell and heaven (Deva realms) are not the only two “destinations.” One can be born among any of the 31 realms, including the animal realm that we see.
- The second is that one’s human bhava does not normally end at death. A human bhava can last thousands of years and unless one has used up all that time, one could be reborn with a human body again. In that case, the “mental body” corresponding to the human bhava (i.e., human gandhabba) comes out of the dead body and has to wait until a matching womb becomes available.
- There is an exception to the rule in the last bullet. If one has done a ānantariya kamma (like killing a parent or cultivate a jhāna) then one’s human bhava will end at death even if there is more kammic energy left. In the first case, one will be born in hell and in the second (jhāna) one will be born in a Brahma realm.
- There are few other inconsistencies in the movie, but those are the major ones.

Pāli Word for Ghost is “Bhuta

13. Another interesting point is that the Pāli word for “ghost” is “bhūta“.

- Bhūta in Pāli (and Sinhala, බූත) means an entity that one cannot really grasp.
- For example, scientists are trying to figure out the fundamental “blocks” that all matter is made of. They initially thought an atom would be the smallest unit of matter. Then they found out that an atom is made of electrons, protons, and neutrons. They kept probing deeper and now are down to levels where it is hard to distinguish between “matter” and “energy.”
- The four great elements (cattāri mahābhūtāni) in Buddha Dhamma are paṭhavi, apo, tejo, vāyo. But they can NEVER be detected individually. They ALWAYS come in packets called “suddhātthaka.” A suddhātthaka has those four great elements and four more elementary units. Even that unit cannot be “seen” and is said to be at the “bhūta stage”.
- A gandhabba (ghost in the above discussion) has only three suddhātthaka (they are called dasaka because when vibrational and rotational “modes” are added to become “ten units each.”
- To be visible to our eyes, billions and billions of such suddhātthaka need to be piled up. Now we can see that a gandhabba hardly has any “matter.” That is why it is called “ghost” or a “bhūta.”

One Last Thing

14. At 109 minutes, Oda Mae “lets” Sam to get into her physical body so that Molly will be able to “touch him” for the last time.

- That is possible according to Buddha Dhamma. If a human is willing, a gandhabba can “get into” that physical body.
- Even if the human is not willing, but has a “weak mind,” a rogue gandhabba can “get in.” It is said that the human is now “possessed.” Such cases are still reported in Sri Lanka and the human is said to be “possessed by a demon.” But it is usually a gandhabba with bad character and not a demon.
- By the way, I was very much moved by that last scene. This is part of the suffering that we tend to be unaware of or even disregard. It is a good example of “piyehi vippayogo dukkho” OR “separation from what is loved is suffering.” We will all face that at least at the moment of death. We will have no choice but to leave all that we love.

There are many more details like that. But the above discussion should provide the basic ideas involved with a gandhabba. As the Buddha admonished, we will never be able to uncover and sort out all such complexities. But it is good to be aware of the general ideas involved.

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