Those who do not know dasa akusala (ten immoral actions), please read AN 135 through 148. Their counter-parts or dasa kusala (10 moral actions) are in AN 179 through AN 192. That is only a partial list. Those are the basis of Buddha Dhamma. They are very short suttas just listing those actions.
The most important of dasa akusala is miccha ditthi (wrong views), which is at two levels: (1) having the 10 types of wrong views, and (2) not comprehending the real nature of the wider world of 31 realms (nature of anicca, dukkha, anatta, asubha, etc), normally stated as Tilakkhana (anicca,dukkha, anatta).
- Most of other dasa akusala are done spontaneously (without thinking) because one has miccha ditthi. If the sense temptation is high enough, the response is spontaneous.
If one has both types of miccha ditthi, one’s mind is totally covered (moha). The first step is to get rid of the 10 types of miccha ditthi by following the mundane eightfold path and getting to the avijja level (ignorance of the Four Noble Truths or equivalently Tilakkhana). Only after that one can start on the Noble Eightfold Path by starting to comprehend Tilakkhana. This was discussed in this forum at: "Lōbha, Dōsa, Mōha versus Rāga, Patigha, Avijjā Nov 11, 2018 (p. 44)".
This two-step process was also discussed in "Mahā Cattārisaka Sutta (Discourse on the Great Forty)" on Oct 23, 2018 (p.42). Since I had not discussed the 10 types of miccha ditthi, I will do that today.
Ten Types of Miccha Ditthi
1. The 10 types of micchā ditthi or wrong views must be removed before one can even start on the mundane Eightfold Path; see, “Maha Chattarisaka Sutta (Discourse on the Great Forty)“, which discusses that there are two Eightfold Paths: mundane and Noble.
- It is only then one’s mind is able to see the “bigger picture” and one could comprehend the Three Characteristics or Tilakkhanana (anicca, dukkha, anatta) of this world of 31 realms.
- Once one comprehends Tilakkhana to some extent, one becomes a Sōtapanna, gets in to the Noble Eightfold Path, and subsequently attains higher stages of Nibbāna.
2. But there are many people today who have at least some of the 10 types of micchā ditthi and believe that they are on the Noble Path. But it is clear from above that some may not even be on the mundane Path.
- Those 10 types of micchā ditthi cannot be given up just by saying to oneself that one believes in them. One’s mind must be convinced of it, and that conviction comes by learning Dhamma, true nature of this world.
- In this post we focus on the para lōka and gandhabba, because many Theravadins incorrectly assume that gandhabba is a Mahayana concept.
3. The 10 types of micchā ditthi are listed in many suttas, including the Maha Cattarisaka Sutta and Pathama Niraya Sagga Sutta (Anguttara Nikaya: AN 10.211): “Natthi dinnaṃ, natthi yiṭṭhaṃ, natthi hutaṃ, natthi sukatadukkaṭānaṃ kammānaṃ phalaṃ vipāko, natthi ayaṃ loko, natthi parō lōkō, natthi mātā, natthi pitā, natthi sattā opapātikā, natthi loke samaṇabrāhmaṇā sammaggatā sammāpaṭipannā ye imañca lōkaṃ parañca lōkaṃ sayaṃ abhiññā sacchikatvā pavedentī’ti“. Translated, the wrong views are:
- Giving (dāna) has no merits
- being grateful and responding in kind (for what others have done for oneself) has no merits
- respecting and making offerings to those with higher virtues has no merits
- what we enjoy/suffer in this life is not due to kamma vipāka but they “just happen”
- this world does not exist
- para lōka or the world of gandhabba does not exist
- there is no special person as a mother
- there is no special person as a father
- there are no ōpapātika (instantaneous) births
- there are no samana brahmana (basically Ariyas or yogis) with abhinna powers who can see both this world (imanca lōkam) and para lōka (paranca lokam)
4. I have highlighted three types of micchā ditthi that are common (they are somewhat inter-related), but the one about the gandhabba is a micchā ditthi that even those who believe themselves to be “devout Buddhists” seem to have. They believe that the Buddha did not teach about gandhabba or the para lōka.
- There is Tirokuṭṭa petavatthu in the Petavatthu in the Khuddaka Nikāya (KN). This has been translated to English (not very good), but one can get in idea: Tirokudda Kanda: Hungry Shades Outside the Walls.
- More suttas are discussed in the post at this forum: "Gandhabba State – Evidence from Tipitaka" on Oct 28, 2018 (p.43).
5. In many suttas, including Mahāsaccaka Sutta and Bodhirājakumāra Sutta the Buddha described how he saw human gandhabbas moving from one physical body to the next (in a single human bhava) with the Pubbenivāsānussati Ñāna on the night he attained the Buddhahood.
- While Ariyas with jhānās can attain both the Pubbenivāsānussati Ñāna (about previous human rebirths) and the Cutūpapāda Ñāna (about past births in all realms), other yogis can mostly acquire only the first one, i.e., they can see only their previous human births. Note that this is related to the last type of micchā ditthi, i.e., to believe that no such Ariyas or yogis exist.
- In the sutta links above, the Pāli version is correct but English and Sinhala translations are not correct, because there is no distinction made between the Pubbenivāsānussati Ñāna and the Cutūpapāda Ñāna. With the first Ñāna, one can see previous human births and the with the second, one can see previous births in all 31 realms.
- By the way, I try to provide sutta references at the SuttaCentral site. They have not only the Pāli version, but also translations in different languages. However, it must be kept in mind that some translations are incorrect, as mentioned above and also with the translations of anicca and anatta.
6. We also need to realize that para lōka or the world of gandhabba (of both humans and animals) is NOT a separate realm.
- In all other 29 realms, beings are born fully-formed instantaneously (ōpapātika) contrary to the 9th micchā ditthi on the list above. Those instantaneous births of course do not involve a mother’s womb, and one bhava means just one jāti (birth). For example, a deva or a brahma is born once instantaneously and then death occurs only when the kammic energy for the bhava is exhausted.
- The difference in the human and animal realms is that those dense physical bodies have lifetimes much shorter than the kammic energies for the two bhava; see, “Gandhabba – Only in Human and Animal Realms“.
- When a human or an animal dies — and if there is leftover kammic energy for the human or animal bhava — then a gandhabba comes out of the dead body and waits for suitable womb to be born (jāti) again in the same bhava (same realm).
- Thus, contrary to the widespread belief, gandhabba is not an “antarabhava” (in between bhava; “antara” means “in between”), but rather is in the same bhava. The confusion arises with not knowing the difference between bhava and jāti.
7. Until they find a suitable womb, those gandhabba are in “para lōka” or the netherworld, which co-exists with our world (but normally we cannot see those fine bodies of gandhabbas).
- Thus a human may be reborn many times before switching to another existence (deva, brahma, animal, preta, etc).
- This is why rebirth stories are common. It is the “human bhava” that is extremely hard to get as the Buddha explained. But once in the human bhava, one could be born many times as human; see, “How the Buddha Described the Chance of Rebirth in the Human Realm“.
- The difference between bhava and jāti is explained in, “Bhava and Jāti – States of Existence and Births Therein“. In this forum, it is discussed at, "Gati to Bhava to Jāti – Ours to Control Nov 15, 2018 (p. 47)".
- Also see, "Buddhist Explanations of Conception, Abortion, and Contraception" in this forum on Nov 15, 2018 (p. 47)
8. So, I hope one can understand the fact that one still has micchā ditthi if one adamantly rejects the concept of gandhabba, or the concept of opapathika births.
- If one has any one of the ten micchā ditthi, one is not yet on even the mundane Eightfold Path; see, “Buddha Dhamma – In a Chart” and the post referred to in that chart, “What is Unique in Buddha Dhamma?“.
9. In order to get to the Sōtapanna stage, the first step is to make sure that one learns Dhamma and clear up any remaining doubts about those ten types of micchā ditthi.
- When one gets rid of all ten micchā ditthi, then one is truly on the mundane Eightfold Path.
- Then, at that point, one’s mind been cleansed to a stage where one can comprehend the Three Characteristics of Nature (Tilakkhana): anicca, dukkha, anatta. This is a deeper micchā ditthi, the second type described in the Maha Cattarisaka Sutta.
- When one comprehends the Tilakkhana to some extent, one attains the Sōtapanna stage of Nibbāna. That is when one gets to the Lokottara (Noble) Eightfold Path.
- Then, by following the Noble Eightfold Path one reaches the higher stages of Nibbāna, culminating at the Arahant stage.
10. As for the instantaneous births, instances of such ōpapātika births occur in many suttas. For example, in the Maha Parinibbana Sutta, the Buddha told Ven. Ananda about ōpapātika births of many people who died in a certain village: “..Nandā, ānanda, bhikkhunī pañcannaṃ orambhāgiyānaṃ saṃyojanānaṃ parikkhayā opapātikā tattha parinibbāyinī anāvattidhammā tasmā lokā..”
- As I mentioned, the translations are available in several languages in the above SuttaCentral link for the sutta. For example, the above verse is translated to English as: “..The nun Nandā, Ānanda, through the complete destruction of the five lower fetters has arisen spontaneously in the Brahmā worlds, and will attain Final Emancipation there, without returning from that world..”.
In Sinhala as: “..ආනන්දය, නන්දා නම් භික්ෂුණිය පස් ආකාර ඔරම්භාගිය (සත්වයන් කාමලොකයෙහි රඳවන) සංයෝජනයන් නැතිකිරීම නිසා ඔපපාතිකව (බ්රහ්මලොකයෙහි) උපන්නීය. ඒ (බ්රහ්ම) ලොකයෙන් වෙනස් නොවන ස්වභාව ඇත්තේ එහිදීම පිරිනිවන් පාන්නීය..”.
- However, please keep in mind that those SuttaCentral translations also can have errors (as is the case at most online sites as well as books), as I pointed out in #5 above.
11. Finally, it must be noted that there may be people who attain magga phala, but had never even heard about gandhabba in this life. If one comprehends the Tilakkhana, that is all needed.
- In such cases, they had not rejected the concept of a gandhabba. If someone explained the concept to them, they would accept it since they can see that it must be true.
- However, if one has heard about the concept of a gandhabba (and para lōka), instantaneous births, existence of other realms, and the existence of Ariyas or yogis who have the abilities to see such realms as well as para lōka, and one rejects them as “nonsense”, that is micchā ditthi.
- The only way to get rid of such micchā ditthi is to examine those concepts and convince oneself that those must be true.
As the Buddha declared just after attaining Enlightenment, "This Dhamma is deep. It has been never known in this world". See, the following two posts at this forum: "Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta" Oct 10, 2018 (P. 37) AND Oct 11, 2018 (p. 37) AND Oct 15, 2018 (p. 39), and "On the group of five (on the Five Ascetics attaining Sotapanna stage with Dhammacakkappavattana suatta) Text from the Vinaya Pitaka", Oct 12, 2018 (p. 38).
- It REQUIRES an understanding of the wider world of 31 realms with the para loka.