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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Posted: Thu Jun 13, 2019 9:29 am
by Lal
Hello 2600htz,

I am almost back to normal. Thank you!

Those "nine stages of a citta" go through in a billionth of a second. It is an extremely fast process and no one but a Buddha can see those steps. We can understand those steps once we are taught (they are discussed in the Abhidhamma Pitaka of the Tipitaka).
Basically, within that time one’s mind receives the input (say a visual input from the eyes), recognizes what it is, compares with past experiences, AND forms an opinion about it. All that happens within a small fraction of a second!
This is discussed in detail in the subsection: “Essential Abhidhamma – The Basics” at the site: ... he-basics/
- The first few subsections of the "Living Dhamma" section also discuss some of these basic concepts:

Yes. Those 9 stages happen due to Paticca Samuppada (Dependent Origination), but I have not discussed those processes even at
That is because we only need to understand the much slower Paticca Samuppada (PS) processes in order to cultivate the Path (via Satipatthana and Anapana meditations).
- The idapaccaya PS process that I am discussing now at Dhamma Wheel is a PS process that happens over seconds, minutes, hours, and days.
- The uppatti PS process (which leads to rebirth) happens over years and even over many lifetimes. I will discuss that next at Dhamma Wheel.

Those two processes describe how our CONSCIOUS thinking (vaci sankhara and kaya sankhara) lead to speech and actions, and generate kamma that can bring vipaka (corresponding results) in this life and also in future lives.

So, your second question is related to the first. The development of a citta from just basic awareness of seen something, to recognize it, to compare it with past experiences (that is how one knows that is a friend and not an enemy, for example), and then to form “feelings” (good or bad depending on that recognition), and even decide on whether to look again or to look away (or even to speak or to act), for example. All these happen within a fraction of a second. Only the mind of a Buddha can “see” that fast evolution of a citta.
- As we know by own experiences all those things happen within a fraction of a second upon seeing someone. But only a Buddha can "see' and separate out those steps.
- That is discussed in the posts in the subsection mentioned above.
- I would be happy to discuss further if you or anyone else have questions. But please read those posts, and refer to bullet numbers there if you have a question on a specific point.

Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Posted: Sun Jun 16, 2019 2:27 pm
by Lal
With this post, the idapaccayātā paticca samuppāda discussion is finished, and I will make a transition to the uppatti paticca samuppāda which describes the rebirth process. This is easiest with a discussion on how kammic energy for a new uppatti bhava takes place via MULTIPLE idapaccayātā paticca samuppāda processes.

Bhava paccayā Jāti....Jarā , Marana,...

1. In the previous post we discussed how repeated immoral actions of a teenager can bring about a specific type of existence (bhava) even during the current life and that this is called a kamma bhava.

- We also briefly discussed how such a kamma bhava can get stronger with time and become strong enough to lead to a whole new existence at death; this is called an uppatti bhava.
- Thus, there are two types of "bhava": those that can bring about "experiences" during the current life (kamma bhava) and those that become strong enough to power a whole new existence (uppatti bhava).
- This is explained in the "Paṭiccasamuppāda vibhaṅga" "Tattha katamo upādānapaccayā bhavo? Bhavo duvidhena—atthi kammabhavo, atthi upapattibhavo", i.e., "What is upādānapaccayā bhavo? Two types of bhava - kamma bhava and upppatti bhava".

2. Another way to look at the concept of a "bhava" is to treat it as a seed. As we discussed in the previous post, when we do any act with ignorance (and greed or hate), that leads to the generation of a kamma seed with some energy to bring about results in the future; this is the same as saying that a "bhava" was created by that action. The concept of a kamma seed is easier to comprehend.

- Just like a normal seed has the potential to give rise to a plant, a kamma seed (or a “bhava“) has the potential to bring about a "jāti" or a "birth", either during this life or a new life in future births.
- In most posts, I write it as jāti (to be consistent with convention), but it really is pronounced "jāthi".

3. Let us take the example of the teenager that we discussed in the previous post. Because of the influence of his friends, the teenager starts dealing and using drugs and gradually gets drawn into the gang to become a gang member, and eventually starts doing violent acts of beating and killing people.

- When he did the first beating his friends probably had to encourage or even force him to do it. Now let us suppose that he did not have a sansāric habit of doing that kind of violent acts. So, when he did the first act, a small kamma seed (or a "bhava") was energized.

4. The next time he did something similar, this initial kamma seed made it easier for him to do the second act. Once he did that, the seed got bigger, and the next time he may not need much encouraging, and so on. The more he does it, the more easily he can get into that "bhava", i.e., the stronger that kamma seed becomes.

This is none other than many idapaccayātā PS cycles running that start with “avijjā paccayā sankhāra” (doing immoral deeds due to avijjā), and leading to “upādāna paccayā bhava”, making that bhava (or kamma seed) strong.

- This is another way of expressing "habit (gati; pronounced “gathi”) formation" that I have discussed in many other posts. The more one does acts suitable for a certain "bhava", the viññāna for similar behavior grows, and it is easier for one to be "born" in a corresponding state; this is "pati+ichcha" leading to "sama+uppāda" as pointed out in the introductory post, "Paticca Samuppada – “Pati+ichcha”+”Sama+uppāda".
- Thus, the more the teenager does violent acts, it becomes easier for him to be "born in that state", i.e., easier for him to do similar acts.
- In other words, repeated sankhāra leads to strengthening the corresponding mindset or viññāna, and it propagates down the paticca samuppāda series to make "kamma bhava".

5. Now let us consider when that kamma seed or "kamma bhava" gives rise to a "jāti" in idapaccayātā paticca samuppāda. One day, his drug deal is sabotaged by a rival gang member, and he gets angry. Now he is easily "born" in that "animal-like violent state". He starts beating up that guy. This is "jāti" in this case.

- When the beating is almost done, that "jāti" is almost over with; it is at the "jarā" (decay) stage and when it is done that is the end or death ("marana") of that "jāti".
- Thus when that episode is over, that temporary "jāti" of "a violent existence" is over.
- The rest of it, "sōka, paridēva, dukkha, dōmanassa" or many forms of suffering comes later in that life or even in future births. The kamma seed that helped him do that act, itself got even stronger.

6. The kammic energy of that kamma seed was not spent giving rise to that jāti that happened during that particular instance. That is because that was not a case of kamma vipāka. Rather, that kamma seed got stronger, because the teenager did more apunna abhisankhāra (i.e., immoral deeds).

- Now, if during that confrontation with the other rival gang member he himself gets beaten up, then that is due to a kamma vipāka.
- In either case, that "birth" or 'jāti" (the confrontation with the rival gang member) would give him only misery at the end: "sōka, paridēva, dukkha, dōmanassa".
- Many such idapaccayātā paticca samuppāda cycles can operate during even a day and he may be "born" repeatedly in that confrontational state. Some may be minor, like getting mad at his friends but some could be violent. He has prepared the "bhava" and he can get into "jāti" or be "born in that bhava" easily. I am mixing up English and Pali words in order to make the meanings clear and to get used to those terms.
- Just like when a seed is made it is easy to get that seed to germinate, once we prepare a "bhava" it is easy to be born in that type of existence.

7. Now we can see that a "bhava" or a "kamma seed" is the potentiality for a particular kind of existence or a "state of mind" during the current life itself.

- He will be easily transitioned to that “state of mind” (or bhava). For example, he may be having a good time with his family and be with a “normal state of mind”. Then he gets a phone call from a fellow gang member asking for his help with a gang-related activity.
- He will instantly be transitioned to the “gang mentality” and be born a gang member. Then he will engage in whatever gang activity.
- But any birth (or jāti) will come to an end. When that activity is over, he may come home and be part of the family life.
- However, that “bad jāti” will ALWAYS lead to “jarā, marana, soka, parideva, dukkha domanassa”. Even if that particular was successful and he leaves there happily, that ACTIVITY will lead to suffering in the future. He had accumulated more kammic energy for that “bad bhava”.

8. But an important thing to remember is that "bhava paccya jāti" does not mean he is guaranteed to be born in that state. It is likely that he will be born in that state under suitable conditions, for example with provocation.

- But if he comes to his senses and realizes the perils of such actions, he can make an effort and slowly degrade the potency of that kamma seed. The first thing is to stop doing those more violent acts. If the teenager has enough determination and if he has moral support from his family, he may be able to get into the moral path. The key step of “upādāna paccayā bhava” may be avoided by losing “upādāna” or the liking for such a bhava.
- If he makes a determination to change, it will be hard in the beginning. It is like trying to stop a moving car. If the car has a lot of speed, it takes a bigger effort to stop. It is easier to stop a slowly moving car, before it gains speed. In the same way, it is easier to revert back if one realizes that one is on the wrong path early.

9. If the teenager does not change his ways, but only gets involved more and more with the violent activities, then that kamma seed (or kamma bhava) will grow bigger and can become strong enough to energize a whole new existence (rebirth) or "uppatti bhava". Or he can even make a single huge kamma seed by killing someone.
- We all are likely to have acquired several or even many such large bad kamma seeds (i.e., many bad "uppatti bhava") suitable to yield rebirths in the lowest four realms; we have no way of finding out.
- Of course, we are also likely to have many good kamma seeds (i.e., many good "uppatti bhava") suitable to yield rebirths in the higher realms.
We will discuss a bit more on “bhava” when we discuss “uppatti paticca samuppāda” in the next post.

Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Posted: Sun Jun 23, 2019 11:57 am
by Lal
Here we wrap up the series on Paticca Samuppāda. Please feel free to ask questions.

Uppatti Paticca Samuppāda (How We Create Our Own Rebirths)

1. In the previous post we discussed the existence of two types of “bhava” or “existences”: kamma bhava and uppatti bhava.

- Both types of bhava or existences arise due to the generation of (abhi)sankhara due to avijja. We remember that all types of kamma (kaya kamma, vaci kamma, mano kamma) are done with sankhara (kaya, vaci, and mano sankhara) or “how we think and then act on such thinking”.
- ALL sankhara arise in the MIND. As we see, they lead to future rebirths with physical bodies. This is why the Buddha said: “Mano pubbangamā dhammā..” or “ALL dhammā arise with the mind as precursor..”.
- When we generate (abhi)sankhara with a “future expectation”, we ALWAYS generate a kamma bhava, which is a “seed” to bring about a future existence in this life or in a future life.
- A kamma bhava can become an uppatti bhava if it becomes strong enough to give rise to a rebirth. For example, killing a parent WILL generate an uppatti bhava that WILL bring in a birth in an apaya in the very next rebirth.

2. That is basically the key difference between Idappaccayatā Paticca Samuppāda and Uppatti Paticca Samuppāda.

- Idappaccayatā Paticca Samuppāda generates kamma seeds or kamma bhava moment-to-moment.
- Those bhava (or kamma seeds or kamma bija) that bring kamma vipaka during a lifetime (whether in this life or WITHIN a future life) is called a “kamma bhava”.
- Some of those are strong enough to bring in a new future existence (whether in a bad realm or in a good realm) are called “uppatti bhava”.
- Regardless of whether it is a kamma bhava or an uppatti bhava they are generated every time we act with avijja and generate vinnana via the steps, “avijja paccaya sankhara” and “sankhara paccaya vinnana”.
- Then those bhava are generated with more Paticca Samuppāda steps and they invariably lead to “bhava paccaya jati” and “jati paccaya jara, marana, soka, perideva, dukkha, domannasa” or “the whole mass of suffering’.

3. We do not have any control over which "uppatti bhava" is selected at death. The strongest with the most "upādāna" associated with it gets to the front automatically. The Buddha gave a simile to explain how this selection of a "uppatti bhava" or a strong kamma seed happens at the cuti-patisandhi transition at death.
- Imagine a barn that keeps the cows in for the night. In the morning, all the cows are anxious to get out and roam around. But when the gate opens, it is the strongest cow that has come to front and is out of the gate when it is opened. The weaker ones don't even make an effort to be at the front.
- Just like that, it is the strongest "kamma seed" or a "patisandhi bhava" that wins at the cuti-patisandhi transition.
- In the case of the teenager that we discussed in the previous post, if the kamma seed that he nourished during this life as a violent person with "animal-like" behavior is the strongest one of all his accumulated kamma seeds, then it will bring about an animal existence at the cuti-patisandhi transition.

4. A Buddha could analyze such a patisandhi paticca samuppāda cycle in finer details to pin-point even what type of animal would it be. This is because a Buddha can see not only a person's whole history in the present life, but going back to many aeons; thus he could see which kamma seed will bring the next existence and exactly which kind of "gati" are embedded in that kamma seed. We can only discuss the general trends, and here we have discussed only the main ideas of how these paticca samuppāda cycles operate.

- Going back to the teenager, In this case it is the patisandhi paticca samuppāda cycle that operates, and "bhava paccayā jāti" here leads to the birth in a new existence as an animal using that uppatti bhava.

5. Once born in such an animal existence, that animal will grow and then start the old age ("jarā"), and eventually die ("marana").

- At that death, it is likely that the kammic energy of that kamma seed has not been depleted.
- Since most violent animals have shorter lifetimes, only a fraction of that kammic energy is likely to have been spent and "he" will keep going through many of similar births ("jāti") until the energy of that kamma seed is spent. It is said that many animals keep coming back to the same life many hundreds of times.

6. This is the difference between "bhava" and "jāti". Once one gets a new existence or "bhava", one could have many births ("jāti") in that existence until the energy of the kamma seed is totally spent.
- Thus, we can see that the last step of "jāti paccayā jarā, marana, sōka, paridēva, dukkha, dōmanassa" will be with that "teenager" for a long time to come. It is not just one birth but many that will correspond to that existence as that animal.
- For us also, in general, when one is in the human "bhava" one could be reborn many times before the energy of that "good kamma seed" is depleted. This is why those rebirth memories can be recalled from adjacent lives. A human bhava can last many thousands of years, but each human birth (jati) lasts only about 100 years.
- However, it is very difficult to get another "human bhava"; see, "How the Buddha Described the Chance of Rebirth in the Human Realm".

7. Before closing this section let us discuss another important point. We mentioned earlier than everyone has accumulated numerous good and bad kamma seeds strong enough to give rise to good and bad rebirths. Then the question arises: Does a person attain the Sōtapanna stage (i.e., make bad rebirths in the lowest four realms void) by eliminating all those corresponding bad kamma seeds?

- While it is possible to reduce the potency of kamma seeds and maybe even eliminate some, it may not be possible to remove all. Many kamma seeds may be removed by the Ariya metta bhavana discussed in the "Bhavana (Meditation)" section, but there could be left overs. It is said that the Buddha had 11 instances of bad kamma vipāka including a back problem.
- Therefore, it is very likely that we all have many good and bad kamma seeds strong enough to energize many good and bad rebirths.

8. What happens at the cuti-patisandhi moment involves the "upādāna paccayā bhava" step in the uppatti paticca samuppāda cycle. As we recall, this is the same step that is responsible for energizing a "kamma bhava" in the Idappaccayatā Paticca Samuppāda.

- The same step is involved in grasping the strongest "uppatti bhava" at the end of the current "bhava". If a person dies and if that was the last possible human birth for him/her, then at the dying moment, that comes closest and he/she will willingly grasp it because that will match the dominant "gati" of him/her.

9. Let us consider the case of the violent teenager again. Suppose he continued with his violent acts and built up an "uppatti bhava" suitable for a violent animal. Then, at the dying moment, he could see in his mind (like in a dream), a rival gang member trying to "steal a drug deal"; he will also see a gun close-by. By his natural instincts he will get angry, grab the gun, and shoot that person. This is an example of a "gati nimitta" or a "vision of next birth according to one's gati".

- That is the "upādāna paccayā bhava" step for the new existence. He has willingly grasped the mindset of an animal, and he will be born as an animal. His next thought moment is in that animal which comes out of that dead body of the teenager as a "gandhabba" with a fine body that cannot be seen.
- This is described in detail in other posts; it needs more background material in "manomaya kaya" for understanding the technical details, but that is not critical here. However, now we can see how a new existence is grasped at the end of a "bhava" in the patisandhi (uppatti) paticca samuppāda cycle.

10. Let us now go back to the question of how a Sōtapanna avoids such bad rebirths even if he/she has many bad kamma seeds. Suppose that Sōtapanna has the same kind of kamma seed as that teenager (could be from a previous life), and that it is the strong enough to come to forefront of his/her mind at the dying moment.

- What happens is that a Sōtapanna will not grab the gun and shoot that person even if it is his/her worst enemy doing something that could make him/her mad. His/her mindset or "gati" have been permanently changed. Thus "upādāna paccayā bhava" step will not be executed for that kamma seed.
- In that case now the next potent uppatti bhava will come to the forefront. If that is also a bad one suitable for rebirth in the lowest four realms, that will be rejected too. Eventually, he/she will grasp a rebirth that is compatible with his/her "gati" at that dying moment, which for a Sōtapanna will never be a "gati" of a being in one of the four lowest realms.
- This happens automatically and very quickly. We do not have any conscious control over it.

11. Thus one's rebirth will determined by BOTH the way one lives AND how one had lived previous lives.

- One would generate “kamma seeds” or “uppatti bhava” for possible future existences according to the way one lives a life.
- However, if one has changes one’s gati PERMANENTLY (via attaining at least the Sotapanna stage), then EVEN IF one had committed bad kamma suitable to bring in a “bad bhava”, that “bad bhava” will not be grasped at the cuti-patisabdhi moment.
- This is why paticca samuppāda means "pati + ichcha" leading to "sama" + "uppāda" or what one grasps willingly and habitually is what one that will operate automatically at the dying moment; see, "Paticca Samuppāda – “Pati+ichcha”+”Sama+uppāda".
- This is why it is better to use Paticca Samuppāda rather than using the English translation of "dependent origination". Most Pali word have "built-in" explanations. One just needs to understand what is meant by those words and just use the Pali words.
- I have explained this with sanna, sankhara, and vinnana as well. Those DO NOT have corresponding SINGLE English words. In particular it is WRONG to translate vinnana as just "consciousness".

Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Posted: Sat Jun 29, 2019 8:53 pm
by Lal
Origin of Life – There is No Traceable Origin

1. As I explained in my previous post, we ourselves CREAT OUR OWN future lives, as described by Uppatti Paticca Samuppada.

- Paticca Samuppada cycle starts with “avijja paccaya sankhara”. As long as there is avijja (no comprehension of the Four Noble Truths), there will be bhava and jati (i.e., rebirth), and that cycle will continue for ever (just as it had no beginning).
- This cycle ends ONLY WHEN one’s avijja is removed via comprehension of the real nature of this world of 31 realms and one voluntarily gives craving (tanha) for existence in this world of 31 realms. That is the attainment of Nibbana or Arahanthood.
- This understanding is the FOUNDATION of Buddha Dhamma.

2. Therefore, the question, “What is the origin of life?” is at the the foundation of Buddha Dhamma.

- Most scientists believe that our universe came tom existence only about 14 billion years ago with the “Big Bang”.
- Furthermore, current scientific theories say that life first formed in a primitive state (single-cell entities) and evolved to more complex life forms. And that humans came into existence less than five hundred thousand years ago.
- Scientists do not agree with the “Creation hypothesis” that is the foundation of Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) simply because it is not compatible with the Principle of Causality. Nothing can arise without a cause(s). If a Creator created life, how did that Creator come into existence?

3. According to the Buddha, life has no traceable beginning. Life has always existed, but planetary systems (like our Solar system) are destroyed periodically and re-formed over long times.

- This is the only explanation that is consistent with the Principle of Causality: There is no “first beginning to life”. Life always existed, and it evolves according to the Principle of Causality, which is Paticca Samuppada; see my previous post: “Uppatti Paticca Samuppāda (How We Create Our Own Rebirths)".
- If we go by the Principle of Causality (which is THE basis of modern science), there CANNOT be an origin of life, unless life can start with inert matter.
- What the video below explains is that it is NOT POSSIBLE to create EVEN A SINGLE CELL (basic building block of life) in the laboratory starting with inter matter. If it cannot be created in a laboratory under controlled conditions, it WILL NOT be possible for life to arise in a natural process starting with inert matter.

4.Here is a very brief explanation in the Agganna sutta: When the Solar system would be destroyed in about 5 billion years, only the lower realms (up to the second brahma realm) are destroyed. The higher realms have “very fine matter” at the suddhastaka level (which is the smallest unit of matter in Buddha Dhamma), and thus will not be destroyed.

- All living beings in the lower realms move up to higher realms over a long time, before those realms are destroyed.
- When the Solar system is re-formed after billions of years, those beings move down to the re-formed Earth.
- This process is described in the Agganna sutta, and I will not be able to discuss that complex process any time soon. But I have discussed the main points in the post:”Buddhism and Evolution – Aggañña Sutta (DN 27)" :[html] ... nna-sutta/[/html]

5.The following presentation is by a scientist (Dr. James Tour) who has a different viewpoint than most other scientists. He provides solid evidence that life could not have evolved starting with inert matter. It is too complex to have been evolved by natural processes. I think you are likely to agree with him on that if you watch the whole presentation.

- At the end of the video, Dr. Tour comes to the conclusion that since life is too complex to evolve, it must have been CREATED by a Creator God. That is the other extreme view.
- According to Buddha Dhamma, life did not evolve from inert matter, nor it was created by a Creator God. Life always existed and it just takes different forms when a given “lifestream” is reborn a human, animal, deva, etc. We all have been born in most of 31 realms in our deep past!

6.Of course, it is very likely that Dr. Tour is not aware of the extensive and scientific explanation by the Buddha in the Agganna sutta: Life has ALWAYS existed. A given lifestream (you or I) have existed without a traceable beginning.

- It is just that we ourselves CREATE OUR OWN future lives, as described via Uppatti Paticca Samuppada (which I discussed in my previous post).

7. A cell is the building block of life. Setting aside a complex life form like a human (made of trillions of different types of cells), science WILL NOT be able to create even a single cell. In fact, even in any living being, individual cells are not formed. Instead, an existing cell divides to make two cells, and that is how more and more living cells come into existence!

- Each of our bodies started with just a single cell (zygote), and it became alive only when a gandhabba (or patisandhi vinnana) "descended to the womb" and merged with that single cell. It is cell division that led to the current physical body with trillions of cells; see, "Buddhist Explanations of Conception, Abortion, and Contraception": [html] ... ha-dhamma/[/html]
- No scientist has been able to CREATE even a primitive single cell.
- As explained by Dr. Tour, a living cell is very complex and is like a working factory. He does a good job in his explanations.
Here is the presentation:

Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 10:23 pm
by Lal
Human Life – A Mental Base (Gandhabba) and a Material Base (Cell)

1. Here is a summary of current scientific understanding of the conception of a human baby.

- During mother’s menstrual cycle, one egg (ovum) is usually released from one of the ovaries and is swept into the funnel-shaped end of one of the fallopian tubes.
- After intercourse with the father, If a sperm penetrates the egg there, fertilization results and the fertilized egg (zygote) moves down the fallopian tube and ends up in the uterus. This zygote divides into two cells, those two to four cells, etc.
- This collection of cells enters the uterus in 3 to 5 days. In the uterus, the cells continue to divide, becoming a ball of cells called a blastocyst. Inside the uterus, the blastocyst implants in the wall of the uterus, where it develops into an embryo attached to a placenta and surrounded by fluid-filled membranes; see, ... fetus.html

2. This cell division is what causes that baby to grow (first inside the womb and then outside the womb) to become a full-grown human with trillions of cells. It is that first cell (which cannot even be seen with the naked eye) that is eventually multiplied to a mass of trillion of cells!

- However, there is much confusion about WHEN that zygote becomes alive, i.e., when it can be called "a human". This "time of conception" varies widely based on personal and religious beliefs.
- It varies from the moment of the merger of the egg and sperm (to form the zygote), to actual birth of the baby (i.e., coming out of the womb)!

3. According to the suttas as well as Abhidhamma in the Tipitaka, a new human existence (bhava) does not start in a womb. It starts at the cuti-patisandhi moment when the previous bhava comes to an end. For example, if a deva dies and becomes a human, a human gandhabba (fine mental body) will be formed at the time of death of that deva.

- A human bhava can last thousands of years. On the other hand, a physical human body lasts only about 100 years. In between successive births with “human bodies”, the gandhabba (mental body) lives in what is called “para lōka“. The para lōka co-exists with our human lōka, but we cannot see those fine mental bodies of gandhbbas; see, “Micchā Ditthi, Gandhabba, and Sōtapanna Stage“ at
- Then that human gandhabba will have to wait until suitable womb becomes available. By “suitable” it means that the gati (loosely related to character/habits) of the gandhabba have to match those of the parents, especially the mother. Gati is an important concept in Buddha Dhamma that has been ignored for a long time; see, "The Law of Attraction, Habits, Character (Gati), and Cravings (Asavas)" Oct 25, 2018 (p.43, and several posts up to p. 50.
- Anytime after the egg and sperm are merged to form the zygote, a "matching gandhabba" can descend to the womb and merge with it.

4. Therefore, the time of conception is very precise in Buddha Dhamma: It happens at the time when the life-less zygote becomes “alive” with the merging of the gandhabba. That is the time of conception and it happens very early, normally within a day after intercourse.

- In suttas, this is called “okkanti” (a gandhabba or a patisandhi viññāna descending to a womb); see, "Gandhabba State – Evidence from Tipitaka" at
- The moral issues involving contraception and abortions are discussed in the post, "Buddhist Explanations of Conception, Abortion, and Contraception" at

5. What happens in a womb (when an egg is fertilized with a sperm) is just to provide the “material basis” (zygote or the "first cell") for the gandhabba to start a new "human being" that will eventually grow to become an adult with trillions of cells.

- The “blueprint” for that physical body (i.e., the gandhabba) was created at the dying moment in the previous life. The gandhabba brings his/her own gati as well as set of kamma vipaka that would come into play during the existence of that human body.
- However, the physical body will also take into account the features of the mother and father via that zygote; see, #1 above.
- Therefore, the new baby will have complex mixture of physical and mental characteristics of all three.
- All this is discussed in more detail in several posts, including “Ghost in the Machine – Synonym for the Manomaya Kaya?“, “Manomaya Kaya (Gandhabba) and the Physical Body”, and a more technical description in “Cuti-Patisandhi – An Abhidhamma Description“ at

6. I will take this opportunity to point out that is it only series of events that lead to a "new human being". That gandhabba which led to a new life was really a "patisandhi viññāna", which is nothing other than a "packet of kammic energy" created in a previous life. Therefore, it was NOT an existing "living being" that "became the new human being".

- This is why the Buddha said there is no "self" traveling from life-to-life. Any living being just CREATES energy (kammic energy in terms of a patisandhi viññāna) to start a new "life form".
- However, there is "continuity of life" that was CAUSED in a previous life (when a strong kamma was done and this patisandhi viññāna was created). Therefore, it is not possible to say that there is "no-self" either. There is a causal connection between two adjacent lives (or more precisely between adjacent bhava, because within a human bhava, for example, there can be many births).
- If one can grasp this key point, that will help removing sakkaya ditthi (which is the key to the Sotapanna stage).

7. There is no NEW living being and there has not been a FIXED living being (i.e., a "soul" or an "ātma") either. Any living being just moves from one existence to another based on what types of patisandhi viññāna have been created in the past!

- For example, one may be born many times with a human body while in the "human bhava", but when the energy for that "human bhava" runs out, that lifestream gets hold of a new bhava (as a brahma, deva, animal, etc) which is the strongest patisandhi viññāna among many possibilities.
- If one is able to follow that "chain of past lives", one will go through billions of past lives per minute, but will never be able to find a "beginning" life!
- According to the Buddha, life has no traceable beginning. "Gaddulabaddha Sutta (SN 22.99)" is about how long the rebirth process. At the very beginning of the sutta: “Anamataggoyaṃ, bhikkhave, saṃsāro” means “bhikkhus, there is no discernible beginning to the rebirth process”. This verse is in many suttas including all the suttas in the "Anamatagga Saṃyutta".

8. A human life requires two basic components: a mental body (gandhabba/patisandhi viññāna) and a material body.
- A mental body or gandhabba (in different forms) has existed forever with any existing life-form, as explained in #6 and #7 above.
- The material body starts with a single cell created by the union of mother and father; that single cell (zygote) multiplies over time and the body of an adult has trillions of cells.

9. As I pointed out towards the end of the previous post, a cell is the basic building block of life. All living things (sentient beings and plants) are made of of cells.

- Each of these cells come into existence from existing cells! No new cells are produced individually. This is a very important point.
- Just as there is "beginning" to any sentient living being, there no "beginning" as to how a "first cell" came to existence!

10. Of course, there are many scientists today with the view that a "first cell" was created early in Earth's history, within a billion years of the formation of the Earth.

- This "first formation time" comes just from archeological studies. As new studies find fossilized cells going back to earlier rocks, the time it took form the "first cell" has now been pushed back within 300 million years of the formation of the Earth!
- However, a living is cell is too complex to be formed via "natural processes" no matter how long a time is given. It is an accepted fact in Biochemistry that all existing cells come from pre-existing cells!
- Just like a conscious life-form cannot be "created" (it can only continue from an existing life-form as discussed above), a cell cannot be created.

11. All life (whether sentient or not, i.e., whether have a mind or not) are made of cells.

- Some of them (plants) are not conscious, i.e., they do not have mind.
- On the other hand, humans and animals are also made of cells, but they have a mind too.

12. So, we must realize that being alive and being conscious are two different things. Plants are alive but they cannot think: plant cells just mechanically perform "pre-programmed" functions. On the other hand, humans and animals are also made up of cells, but there is an additional entity associated them: gandhabba or the mental body!

- It is amazing to see that even plant cells are very active, buzzing with activity. All cells are programmed for various functions. Of course, different types of cells are programmed for carrying out different tasks. This is an interesting topic that we do not want to get too much involved in, because that can be a real distraction to the main task of learning Dhamma and following the Noble Eightfold Path.
- However, having at least a rough idea about the complexities of life can be a motivation to learn more about Buddha Dhamma.

13. Here is a video that explains the current status of understanding of cells. I will get to more relevant aspects in the next post.

Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Posted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:49 pm
by Lal
Living Cell - How Did the First Cell Come to Existence?

It may appear that I am taking off in a different direction and not focus on Buddha Dhamma. But I want to assure that this issue is very much relevant to Buddha Dhamma. This basic picture is essential to understand what is meant by "sansāric journey without a beginning" in many suttas, and thus to understand what suffering the Buddha taught how to stop. (Any sufferings that we encounter in this life are insignificant).

How Cells Come to Existence

1. Biochemistry says all cells existing now come from pre-existing cells. How did the first cells on Earth come to existence? Both creationists and evolutionists say those "first cells" could only have come from one of two possible places:

(i) Spontaneous creation - Random chemical processes created the first living cell.
(ii)Supernatural creation - God or some other supernatural power created the first living cell.

- However, both sides have not even realized that there is a third possibility, i.e., "first cells" were created via kammic energy, which is the same as "mental energy".

2. The Buddha taught that there is "no traceable beginning" to life. Therefore, it is not possible to trace back to a "first gandhabba (mental body)". When a human (or an animal) is born, it has a physical body in addition to the mental body. That physical body is made with cells.

- Of course, the Buddha did not talk about cells. I am just bridging that part of the puzzle, based on modern science and Aggañña Sutta; see, ”Buddhism and Evolution – Aggañña Sutta (DN 27)“ at
- This is important because, now scientists are able to perform "cloning" of animals. That is not the same as creation of a new life form. What is done there is to basically make a zygote starting with existing cells and then an existing gandhabba can the "take possession" of that zygote. This is actually related to the observed "evolution of species" supporting Darwin's theory of evolution; see, "Cloning and Gandhabba" at

Origins of "First Cells" on Earth

3. It is important to realize that Darwin's theory of evolution is NOT about the "evolution of a cell". It is about the evolution of complex species of plants and animals STARTING WITH simpler lifeforms with a single cell.

- Most scientists who believe in the theory of evolution of SPECIES also believe that it MAY BE possible that A FIRST CELL also evolved starting with inert matter.
- Some scientists have concluded that a living cell is too complex to have been evolved -- but they erroneously conclude that therefore life must have been created by a Creator God.

4. Since Robert Hook discovered the existence of cells in 1665, scientists have uncovered a lot of information about cells. The current "cell theory" in biochemistry has two basic axioms:

i. All living things (living beings or a living plants) are made of cells,
ii. New cells are made by "cell division", i.e., by the division of existing cells.

Biochemistry books do not discuss how "first cells" came into existence!

5. Therefore, the question remains as to how the "first cells" on Earth came to existence. Evolutionists says they were created by random combinations of inert molecules.

- Despite what you may have heard in science fiction or popular science literature, scientists are NOT EVEN CLOSE to making even the simplest cell in a laboratory.
- In fact, they will NEVER be able to do so. Once we discuss the current status of cell research you will see why.
- On the other hand, creationists say all life was created by a Creator God.

Buddhist Explanation of Life

According to Buddha Dhamma, a sentient living being has both a mental body (gandhabba) and a physical body. An exception is in brahma realms where there are no physical bodies like ours (therefore no cells).

6. A NEW living being can never be created starting from scratch. A dying gandhabba gives rise to a new one. Any living being creates CAUSES and CONDITIONS that lead to the next existence (bhava)!

- For example, one may be born many times with a human body while in the "human bhava", but when the energy for that "human bhava" runs out, that lifestream gets hold of a new bhava (as a brahma, deva, animal, etc) because of a strong kamma done in the past, as we discussed in previous posts. Therefore, it is kammic energy that gives rise to a gandhabba!
- A gandhabba has ALWAYS been associated with our past rebirths. It is just that the form of the gandhabba keeps changing from bhava to bhava, i.e., an "animal gandhabba" or "brahma gandhabba" is different from a "human gandhabba", but the same lifestream can take all those different forms.
- If one is able to follow that "chain of past lives", one will go through billions of past lives a minute, but will never be able to find a "beginning" life! The Buddha did that upon attaining the Buddhahood, and reported that there is no "discernible beginning to life"; see, for example, "Gaddulabaddha Sutta (SN 22.99)":“bhikkhus, there is no discernible beginning to the rebirth process”.

7. A physical body for a human or an animal is made out of cells. That physical body starts with a single cell (called a zygote) and grows to a body with trillions of cells after a gandhabba (born of a patisandhi viññāna) "descends to the womb" and gets possession of that zygoye. For Tipitaka references, see, "Gandhabba State – Evidence from Tipitaka" at

- On the other hand, a brahma has no physical body made of cells. It is just the mental body (gandhabba) with a trace of matter at suddhāshtaka level.
- The question of a how "first cells" on Earth came to existence is discussed below. We first need to discuss how complex a cell is.

Complexity of a Cell

8. Even the simplest cell is very complex and amazing. Even though nanotechnology has made great advances, it is nowhere close to be able to make a functioning cell.

- The key issue is not making new complex DNA molecules. Those DNA strands in a cell nucleus are "coded with information", just like a computer is programmed.
- Just like a computer program can run by itself and manage a factory, a cell's functions are controlled by information coded in those DNA strands in the nucleus of the cell.
- This "information" comes not by a Creator and not created via random jostling of molecules in early Earth. It comes from kammic energy, just like a gandhabba is created by kammic energy.

9. In the following video, one can good idea about the basic layout and the complexity of a cell.

10. It becomes even more impressive when we look at how small an animal cell is. Here are some rough numbers (in comparison, a mustard seed is 1 to 2 mm in diameter):
- Cell (per side) 0.050 mm (or 50 micrometers).
- Cell membrane 0.000007 mm thick.
- Nucleus (diameter) 0.007 mm.
- Nucleolus (diameter) 0.0025 mm.
- Endoplasmic reticulum: each layer 0.0002 mm (0.0001 mm gap between layers)
- Golgi complex 0.007 mm thick, each layer.
- Ribosomes 0.00003 mm (30 nanometers) in diameter.

11. But the most amazing thing is not that such a small cell has all that complexity. It is that a cell has a "built-in computer-like program" that manages all cell functions including what kind of proteins are to produced. Yes. A cell is a factory that makes proteins in addition to making copies of its own DNA.

- In humans, a copy of the entire genome—more than 3 billion DNA base pairs—is contained in all cells that have a nucleus. The DNA from a single human cell has a length of ~1.8 m or about 6 feet (but at a width of ~2.4 nanometers).
- This genome has the blueprint for a given human (animal) body.

12. The machinery and the activities inside a cell -- which cannot be even be seen with the naked eye -- is truly amazing. As mentioned, a cell is a pre-programmed, very sophisticated factory. Whatever progress that nanotechnology has made cannot even come close to the level of a cell, as can be clearly seen with the following video:

First Cells on Earth Created via Kammic Energy (Same as a Gandhabba)

13. At the present time, new cells of different properties are formed via splitting of existing cells. A new human baby starts with a single cell (zygote) created by the merger of two cells from the mother and father.

- When the Earth was formed, the first cells were created by kammic energy. That happened a long time after the "first humans" who were without physical bodies. The first humans had very fine bodies (like brahmās), and thus they did not have physical bodies with cells. Hundreds of million years later, those early (brahma-like) humans got back their "human gati" and their bodies become visible with a physical body made of cells.
- The "first cells" come into existence via kammic energies from the past. Once they get started, then the "normal method" of cell division led to more cells (what we see now).
- In the same way, no new gandhabbas are created either. When an existing gandhabba dies (at cuti-patisandhi), a new gandhabba comes to existence because a new patisandhi viññāna (which is also kammic energy) is grasped via Paticca Samuppāda.
- Therefore, MIND is the precursor to EVERYTHING. Even plant life has origins in collective kammic energies of all conscious beings on Earth. We will get to that in the future. This is why the Buddha declared, "mind is at the forefront of everything in this world"; see, "Manōpubbangamā Dhammā..":[html] ... ma-dhamma/[/html].

14. It is important to realize that the heavy physical body, say of a human being, is not directly created by mind energy.

- Mind energy just provides the two seeds: gandhabba and the first cell, zygote. Even there, only the first cells on Earth had direct connection to kammic energy when the first human bodies "emerged from brahma-like fine bodies". These days, a zygote is formed by the union of two cells from mother and father.
- When a gandhabba merges with a zygote in a womb, that starts a process where no more kammic energy is needed. That first "live cell" multiplies and leads to more and more cells using energy from the mother and that is how an embryo grows. After birth, a baby grows by eating its own food.

15. Another important point is that the cells of ALL LIVING THINGS are similar and they depend on each other.

- Cells of humans and animals are very similar. The differences come from the variations in the genome (DNA that is inside the cell nucleus).
- Even cells of plants are not that different. The main difference in a cell plant is the presence of chloroplast which generates energy using sunlight.
- In fact, energy to sustain bodies of humans and animals can be traced back to plants. Even though humans and animals do eat other animals, it is those animals like cows who first extract energy from plants.
- Now we can see how inter-related and inter-dependent ALL LIFE is. And how complex life is, even at the physical level.
- The mental body (gandhabba) is even more complex, which is based on Paticca Samuppāda. Only a Buddha can sort out these complexities of life. We are fortunate to live at a time when modern science helps us clarify some of his teachings. More will be confirmed with time.