The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

perhaps you need revisit what saṅkhāra means and how it is used, in what context etc.
Yes. That is a good idea.

The following are the relevant posts:

Sankhāra – What It Really Means Thu Nov 01, 2018 (p. 43)
Correct Meaning of Vacī Sankhāra Nov 03, 2018 (p.43)
- Both at: ... &start=630

Connection Between Sankhāra and Viññāna, Dec 29, 2018 : ... &start=840

Vinnana and Sankhara – Connection to Paticca Samuppada Jan 01, 2019 (P. 57): ... &start=840

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by auto »

Lal wrote:
Sat Jul 04, 2020 12:18 pm
perhaps you need revisit what saṅkhāra means and how it is used, in what context etc.
Yes. That is a good idea.
you wrote
Lal wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:58 am
- “Rūpaṃ attato samanupassati” means, “regards form (meaning one’s body) as “me” in one of four ways. In the same way, that person may consider each of the other four aggregates as “me” in one of four ways.
- Thus, considering each of the five aggregates in four ways “to be mine”, leads to the “self-view” or ‘identity view”. That is “twenty-types of sakkāya diṭṭhi” or “vīsativatthukā sakkāya diṭṭhi.” See, “Nayasamuṭṭhāna” of Nettipakaraṇa.
- Anyone who has not heard the correct explanation of sakkāya diṭṭhi is an “uninformed/ignorant” human or assutavā puthujjano. That is why most people today belong to this category. Even when explained, some people have a hard time grasping this “previously unheard Dhamma.”
Regarding form as "me". It is entire sentence with brackets - "regarding form as me" is saṅkhāra. It is not about the form being my self or i am in the self etc.
“Rūpaṃ attato samanupassati” refers to the clinging aggregates, nutriment. Rupa has nutriment, that rupa doesn't arise without cause.

*Sutta, wrote: They regard form as self.rūpaṃ attato samanupassati.But that regarding is just a conditioned phenomenon.Yā kho pana sā, bhikkhave, samanupassanā saṅkhāro so.
Lal wrote:
Thu Jul 02, 2020 3:09 pm
Katamā cānanda (ca Ananda), sabba­saṅ­khā­resu aniccha saññā?

Idhānanda (Idha Ananda) bhikkhu sabba­saṅ­khā­resu aṭṭīyati harāyati jigucchati.

Ayaṃ vuccatānanda (vuccati Ananda), sabba­saṅ­khā­resu aniccha saññā.


“Ananda, What is the (correct) perception of all saṅkhāra?

“Ananda, all saṅkhāra are like meatless bones, without substance, to be rejected like urine and feces.”

“That is Ananda, how one should perceive all saṅkhāra.”

11. Here the Buddha is describing the characteristics of all saṅkhāra (“sabba” is “all”).

- “Aṭṭi” is “bone”. A dog enjoys chewing a bone. But a bone has no nutrition or taste. Most of the time, the dog’s gum starts bleeding, and that is what it tastes. But the dog does not realize that and values a bone very highly.
- “Hara” is “substance”, and “harāyati” is without substance.
- Furthermore, “ji” and “gu” (pronounced “Jee” and “goo”) are the Pāli and Sinhala words for “urine” and “feces”. As we already know, “icca” (Pronounced “ichcha”) means “like”. Thus “jiguccati” pronounced “jiguchchathi” means “it is no different than liking urine or feces”. Note that “jiguccati” is “ji” + “gu” + iccati” means “a liking for urine and feces.”
- All (abhi)saṅkhāra should be avoided (but this applies only at the Arahant stage).
"..Idhānanda (Idha Ananda) bhikkhu sabba­saṅ­khā­resu aṭṭīyati harāyati jigucchati.." it refer to chandarāga - the upādāna in upādānakhandha.

*Sutta, wrote: The desire and greed for the five grasping aggregates is the grasping there.”Yo kho, āvuso visākha, pañcasu upādānakkhandhesu chandarāgo taṃ tattha upādānan”ti.
in sum, when you read Sutta saying about there is no self, or talking about anatta, anicca etc it is about ­saṅ­khā­ra. And citta is freed by non-clinging refer to the "chandarāgo", as of considering saṅkhāra as non-desireable - like urine and feces.

* mn 75, wrote:These sentient beings who are not free from sensual pleasures—being consumed by craving for sensual pleasures, burning with passion for sensual pleasures—have impaired sense faculties. So even though sensual pleasures are actually painful to touch, they have a distorted perception that they are pleasant.
Ime ca, māgaṇḍiya, sattā kāmesu avītarāgā kāmataṇhāhi khajjamānā kāmapariḷāhena pariḍayhamānā upahatindriyā dukkhasamphassesuyeva kāmesu sukhamiti viparītasaññaṃ paccalatthuṃ.
it says you like "urine and feces" due distorted perception(viparītasañña). By this you can have idea what the upādāna is.

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Atta – Two Very Different Meanings

First, “atta (attā)” is pronounced with the “th” sound, as in “metta (mettā)”. See, #12 of “Tipiṭaka English” Convention Adopted by Early European Scholars – Part 1”

Words With Double Meanings in English

1. A number of English words are spelled the same way and pronounced the same way, but have different meanings. For example, let us consider the word, “mine.”

- The word mine is a possessive adjective. For example, “That house is mine” means the house belongs to me.
- Mine is also a noun. It can refer to a place where minerals (coal, gold, etc) are dug out of the earth.
- A mine (or landmine) also refers to a bomb that is buried underground. It can explode when someone steps on it or drives over it. They are used in war.
- There are many other words like that. We need to know which meaning to use based on the context (how it is used). Another simple word is right. It means a direction in “turn right at the traffic light”. But it means something entirely different in, “you are right” meaning “you are correct.”

Atta (and Attā) – Two Very Different Meanings

2. Many Pāli words have double meanings. In addition, many Pāli words have a mundane meaning and a deeper meaning. We need to know which one to use depending on the situation.

- One becomes good at figuring out which meaning is relevant in a given context, only after having a good understanding of Buddha Dhamma. A good understanding comes especially with practice, not merely by reading about Buddha Dhamma.
- That is why it is not a good idea to resort to Pāli dictionaries alone. See, “Pāli Dictionaries – Are They Reliable?“
- Pāli word “atta” has two frequently used meanings. One is the mundane meaning of “person” or “self.” Let us discuss that first.

Atta Meaning “Person” or “Self” in Mundane Usage

3. There are many Tipiṭaka verses, where “atta” means a “person.” The following are several examples.

- “Attānaṃ damayanti paṇḍitā” in Dhammapada verse 6.80 means “The wise persons control themselves”.
- “Attano sukhamicchati” in Dhammapada verse 21.291 means “one seeks one’s own happiness.” Also, note the word iccha (desire) in “sukhamicchati” is “sukham” + “icchati.”
- In the Attadīpa Sutta (SN 22.43), “attadīpā viharatha” means “make an island of yourself,” meaning “one has to seek one’s own refuge.”

Various Wrong Views based on “Person” or “Self”

4. Humans always wondered what it is that feels like “me”. What defines a “me” or a “self” or “attā“? Based on such thinking, they come to various wrong conclusions or wrong views about a “self.”

- In the Brahmajāla Sutta (DN 1) the Buddha described 62 types of wrong views that people have.
- All these wrong views can be divided into primarily two categories (the other views are variations of these two.) In the terminology used today, we can list those two categories as follows.

Permanent Soul (Sassata Vāda): A given person has a permanent soul in Abrahamic religions (or ātma or ātman in Hinduism.) When the physical body dies, “the soul” or “ātma” gets hold of another existence. In Abrahamic religions, that next existence is forever in either heaven or hell. In Hinduism, one may go through many “incarnations” and would finally merge with Mahā Brahma to attain a permanent existence.

Materialistic View (Ucceheda Vāda): When the present life ends, no more future lives or existences. The material body is solely responsible for generating our thoughts (in the brain.) Many scientists today belong to this category.

5. The verse describing sassata vāda: “Tatra, bhikkhave, ye te samaṇabrāhmaṇā sassatavādā sassataṃ attānañca lokañca paññapenti ..”

means, “when those ascetics and brahmins assert that the self and the cosmos are eternal ..”
- Sassata means “eternal.”

The verse describing uccheda vāda: “Tatra, bhikkhave, ye te samaṇabrāhmaṇā ucchedavādā sato sattassa ucchedaṃ vināsaṃ vibhavaṃ paññapenti ..” meaning, “they assert the annihilation of an existing being..”
- Uccheda means to “break off” or “cut off.” Materialists believe that we just live this life.

With the Mundane Meaning of Atta, Anatta is Not Used as Its Opposite

6. Therefore, in ALL of the above cases, the word “atta” refers to what we traditionally call a “self.”

- In simple terms, materialists have the wrong view that a “self” has only this life.
- People in the other camp have the wrong view that a “soul” is forever.
- The Buddha pointed out that both views are wrong. A “self” would come to existence as long as appropriate causes and conditions are there. But there is no “permanent self” like a soul. An Arahant would not be reborn. He/she would have removed those causes and conditions for rebirth.
- In both cases, the word “anatta (or anattā)” is NEVER used to indicate the opposite of attā as a "person". The word “anatta” is NEVER used to indicate that a “self is absent.” For example, in the Ānanda Sutta (SN 44.10) Vacchagotta comes to the Buddha asked “Master Gotama, is it correct to say that there is a “self”?” He used the phrase, “atthi attā” to ask whether there is a “self.” Then he phrased it the opposite way and asked, ” is it not correct to say that there is a “self”?” There he used the phrase, “na atthi attā” to ask whether a “self” does not exist. See, “Anattā (Mundane Interpretation) – No “Unchanging Self”

Now, let us discuss the absolute or paramattha meaning of “attā.” Here, the opposite of attā (or “anatta“) indicates two facts: (i) Any worldly thing does not have an essence. (ii) One would become helpless at the end if one attaches to those worldly things. These meanings need to be used in the context of the three characteristics of nature or Tilakkhana.

Anatta As a Characteristic of Nature – No Essence in Worldly Things

7. This usage of the word “anatta” indicates “no refuge” or “no essence” to refer to THINGS IN THIS WORLD. It could also mean one would become “helpless” at the end if one pursues worldly things with greed or cravings. This involves the deeper meaning of “atta” being “with refuge” or “with essence.”

- One would be safe and protected by overcoming the anatta nature. That is Nibbāna. Only Nibbāna has the “atta” nature.
- In this context, the three words anicca, dukkha, and anatta describe CHARACTERISTICS of this world. They have NOTHING TO DO with the context of a “self” directly.
- In brief, anicca means that “worldly things” cannot be maintained to anyone’s satisfaction in the long-run. Those “worldly things” include not only material things but also mental attributes, among them vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāṇa.
- IF someone craves them and attaches to them, then that person will be subjected to future suffering. That comes in two parts. First, one would become distressed because those desires will not be fulfilled at the end. Secondly, if one does immoral actions to get them, then one will have to face bad consequences of such actions (including rebirths in bad existences.)
- Thus, in the end, attachment to worldly things will be of “no essence.” Those struggles would be in vain and are fruitless. One would become helpless by pursuing such efforts.

Anattha and Attha Are Strong Versions of Anatta and Atta

8. I have explained in a previous post that the words “iccha” and “aniccha” have the same meanings as “icca” and “anicca” but with stronger emphasis. See, “Icca, Nicca, Anicca – Important Connections.”

- In the same way, “atta” and “anatta” in the present context have stronger versions indicated by “attha” and “anattha.”
- In the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (SN 56.11), the Buddha described a person engaged in kāmasukhallikānuyoga or attakilamathānuyoga as “anatthasaṃhito.”
- The verse at the beginning of the sutta is, “Yo cāyaṃ kāmesu kāmasukhallikānuyogo hīno gammo pothujjaniko anariyo anatthasaṃhito, yo cāyaṃ attakilamathānuyogo dukkho anariyo anatthasaṃhito.”
- Here, the word “anatthasaṃhito” (anattha + san + hito) means an anariya or an ignorance average person is helpless because of the wrong views.

9. Furthermore, “attha” also indicates “truth” (“artha” in Sinhala) and “anattha” indicates “untruth or useless” (“anartha” in Sinhala) depending on the context. None of these words are used in the context of a “self.”

- The above verse could also be explained as an anariya engaging in useless activities (either indulging in sense pleasures or going to the other extreme of self-mortification.) Either activity does not have any meaning or essence.

Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta – Closely Related Characteristics of This World

10. Anicca, dukkha, anatta are CHARACTERISTICS of this world. The word “anatta” in that context DOES NOT mean “no-self” or anything like that. However, a given person can BECOME anatta (helpless) by attaching to things of anicca nature that lead to suffering (dukkha.) But a person with magga phala has overcome that state of “helplessness” and has become an Ariya with refuge (atta.)

- The opposites of anicca, dukha, anatta (ie., nicca, sukha, atta) are characteristics of Nibbāna. See, “Tilakkhana – English Discourses“
- One gets to Nibbāna by renouncing “this world of 31 realms.”
- One attains Nibbāna by first realizing the anicca, dukkha, anatta NATURE of this world. Only then that one would have understood the Four Noble Truths.
- Only then it is possible to grasp that the Fourth Noble Truth of “the path to Nibbāna” is the Noble Eightfold Path. That Noble Path starts with Samma Ditthi, which is the “clear vision” that this world is of anicca, dukkha, anatta NATURE of the world with 31 realms.

“Previously Unheard Dhamma” of the Buddha

11. That is a very succinct description of Buddha Dhamma, the “previously unheard teachings that can only come from a Buddha.”

- The common perception is that one can find long-lasting happiness in this world. That there are so many “mind-pleasing things” in this world worth pursuing. If one makes a determined effort, one can “succeed in life” and “be happy.”
- The Buddha agreed that there are many “mind-pleasing things” in this world.
- But the Buddha taught that there is suffering hidden in those apparent ‘mind-pleasing” things. That hidden suffering is hard to see, and that is why not everyone can understand Buddha Dhamma. Without making a determined effort, it may not be possible.

An Analogy – Assutavā Puthujjano Is Not Different From a Fish Biting Into a Tasty Bait

12. The Buddha gave the following analogy. A fish bites into a tasty bait, because it cannot see the hook hidden in it. The fish only see the “tasty bait” and cannot see the hook, string, fishing pole, and the person holding that pole. If it could see the “whole picture” it would not even go close to that bait.

- In the same way, it is only a Buddha who can “see” the “bigger picture” with the 31 realms with the four suffering-filled realms and the rebirth process. Due to the ignorance of that “wider worldview,” living-beings spend most of the time in those four lowest realms.
- An “assutavā puthujjano” or an “ignorant average human” is unable to see that hidden suffering. That is why most living-beings spend most of their samsaric journey within the four lowest realms. They get trapped there and become helpless. They become “anatta” or “without refuge” at the end. See, “Sakkāya Diṭṭhi – “Me and Mine” View“
- I have discussed those three words in many posts in the section “Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta” and also in the recently revised section on “The Five Aggregates (Pañcakkhandha).” It was also discussed with another approach in the “Origin of Life” section. Each person is different and one of those could be appropriate for a given person. In the end, they all converge to the same point and one would be able to see that they are all self-consistent.

Evidence That Anatta Does Not Mean “No-Self”

13. There are many suttā in the Smayutta Nikāya that discuss anicca, dukkha, anatta, and the relationships among them. Specifically SN 22, SN 23, and SN 35.

- For example, Koṭṭhikaanatta Sutta (SN 35.164) states, “Cakkhu kho, koṭṭhika, anattā; tatra te chando pahātabbo. Rūpā anattā; tatra te chando pahātabbo. Cakkhuviññāṇaṃ anattā; tatra te chando pahātabbo. Cakkhusamphasso anattā; tatra te chando pahātabbo. Yampidaṃ cakkhusamphassapaccayā uppajjati vedayitaṃ sukhaṃ vā dukkhaṃ vā adukkhamasukhaṃ vā tampi anattā; tatra te chando pahātabbo …”

Translated: “The eye, sights, eye-consciousness, and eye “san-contact” (samphassa) are without essence: you should give up the desire/cravings for them. The pleasant, painful, or neutral feeling that arises conditioned by eye “san-contact” (samphassa) is also without essence. You should give up the desire for it.”

- That statement is then repeated for the ear, tongue, nose, body, and mind. It applies anything and everything in this world!

Can Eye-Consciousness Have a “Self”?

14. Most other translations state all those entities that I highlighted above are “not-self.” See, “With Koṭṭhita on Not-Self” which states, “The eye, sights, eye-consciousness, and eye contact are not-self..”

- How can eye-consciousness possibly have a “self”? How can eye contact have a “self”? What does it mean to say they have “no-self”? Even a child should be able to see that statement does not make any sense!

Anything In This World Has Anatta Nature

15. In fact, as stated in the sutta in #13 above (and MANY other suttā) ANYTHING that exists in this world is of anatta nature. They are all without any essence.

- It starts with the anicca nature of ALL worldly things. That means no one can maintain anything in this world to one’s satisfaction over the long run.
- But people try to do that impossible task because they crave many things in this world. But in the end, they would only suffer. That is partly because they do immoral deeds to acquire those “things” and end up having to face bad kamma vipāka. The verse “yad aniccaṃ taṃ dukkhaṃ” or the verse, “Yam pi icchaṃ na labhati tam pi dukkhaṃ” expresses that fact.
- That process will gradually move anyone to more and more suffering. One will eventually end up in the apayā with much suffering, and at that point, one would be truly helpless (anatta.) That is what is meant by, “yaṃ dukkhaṃ tad anattā.“
- That verse, “yad aniccaṃ taṃ dukkhaṃ, yaṃ dukkhaṃ tad anattā” appears in numerous suttā in the Tipiṭaka. That is how living-beings become helpless in the rebirth process (by engaging in immoral deeds) in their quest of seeking “sensory pleasures.”
- That is the “previously unheard Dhamma” of the Buddha.
Last edited by Lal on Mon Jul 06, 2020 11:41 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by auto »

Lal wrote:
Mon Jul 06, 2020 1:15 pm
Can Eye-Consciousness Have a “Self”?

14. Most other translations state all those entities that I highlighted above are “not-self.” See, “With Koṭṭhita on Not-Self” which states, “The eye, sights, eye-consciousness, and eye contact are not-self..”

- How can eye-consciousness possibly have a “self”? How can eye contact have a “self”? What does it mean to say they have “no-self”? Even a child should be able to see that statement does not make any sense!
Atta means subjective, individual. Eye is anatta, not subjective or individual. Other quality of something being anatta is that it can't be commanded, wrote: “Mendicants, the arising of eye consciousness …“Yo kho, bhikkhave, cakkhuviññāṇassa uppādo ṭhiti … pe …jarāmaraṇassa pātubhāvo … pe …
mind consciousness …yo manoviññāṇassa uppādo ṭhiti … pe …
is the manifestation of old age and death.jarāmaraṇassa pātubhāvo.
Sense organ consciousness is appearance of old age and death. So if you can move the eye right now then at that moment eye is ajjhatta, it appears not dead and you can reasonably assume it is not dead thus at that moment it is safe to say it is atta without contradicting Sutta but comprehended it.

It seem you yourself can't understand simple things said in a complicated way.

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by auto » wrote:So let them not identify with the eye, let them not identify in the eye, let them not identify from the eye, let them not identify: ‘The eye is mine.’cakkhuṃ na maññeyya, cakkhusmiṃ na maññeyya, cakkhuto na maññeyya, cakkhu meti na maññeyya;
Let them not identify with sights …rūpe na maññeyya …
. wrote:They regard form as self.rūpaṃ attato samanupassati.
But that regarding is just a conditioned phenomenon.Yā kho pana sā, bhikkhave, samanupassanā saṅkhāro so.
. wrote: “Koṭṭhita, you should give up desire for what is not-self.“Yo kho, koṭṭhika, anattā tatra te chando pahātabbo.
And what is not-self?Ko ca, koṭṭhika, anattā?

The eye,Cakkhu kho, koṭṭhika, anattā; tatra te chando pahātabbo.sights,Rūpā anattā; tatra te chando pahātabbo.eye consciousness,Cakkhuviññāṇaṃ anattā; tatra te chando pahātabbo.
sakkaya ditthi, identity view.

sankha(countable, visible etc) versus immeasurable, boundless. It means when you use eyes you are using them in a limited way wrote:Now, a mendicant might wish: ‘May I live unperturbed, with dart drawn out.’Tasmātiha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu cepi ākaṅkheyya ‘anejo vihareyyaṃ vītasallo’ti,
aren't it just refer to the ākāsānañcāyatana and other dimensions.

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

I am starting on a new series of posts.

Buddhahood Controversies – Introduction


1. Buddhahood is a term that remains mired in controversy. In upcoming posts in this section, I will discuss three topics that have intrigued many people over the years. That will help cultivate faith in the Buddha, Dhamma, Saṅgha.

- The wisdom and capabilities of a Buddha. We will clarify the implications of the three types of knowledge of a Buddha mentioned in #8 below.
- Current scientific knowledge is compatible with most of the “supernormal capabilities” of a Buddha. Scientists have not taken the time to do an in-depth analysis. Of course, most scientists do not know enough about Buddha Dhamma (or physics) to do such an analysis.
- We will also discuss how the teachings of the previous Buddha (Buddha Kassapa) were transmitted as Vedic teachings in distorted form. That is why there are so many common terms in Buddhism and Hinduism, like kamma (karma), jhāna (dhyāna), and even Paṭicca Samuppāda (Pratītyasamutpāda.) Of course, Buddha’s Ānapānasati meditation was misinterpreted as “breath meditation.” All those concepts were there (just like now) at the time of the birth of Prince Siddhattha. We will discuss Tipiṭaka accounts where the Buddha pointed that out.

It is easier for an average human to grasp the mundane meanings (and difficult to grasp the deeper meanings.) That is why periodically those mundane explanations come up disguised as Buddhist teachings as well.

Buddha Is a Title

2. Buddha is a title. Buddha is a human who becomes “Enlightened” or attains the Buddhahood. However, It is necessary to understand his teachings to a higher level to figure out the meaning of the word “Buddha.”

- A Buddha has the “perfect mind.” With a perfect mind, a Buddha knows everything about the world. Even though he lived more than 2500 years ago, he described the universe much of the same way that scientists have found out just within the past 100 years. And he provided many more details about our world (much more than the scientists) as we will discuss.
- One is not born a Buddha. The Buddhahood is attained or achieved. There have been many Buddhā in the past, and there will be many in the future. For example, the Buddha we are discussing now is Buddha Gotama. There was Buddha Kassapa immediately before him (a long time ago) and the next Buddha will be Buddha Maitreya.
- it is a rare occurrence to have a Buddha in the world. Sometimes, billions of years can go by without a Buddha. See #14 of “Pāramitā and Niyata Vivarana – Myths or Realities?” See the note at the end of this post regarding references.
- Before we get into the knowledge of a Buddha, let us discuss some basic facts about Buddha Gotama.

Prince Siddhattha

3. Buddha Gotama was born with the name of Siddhattha (Siddhārtha in Sinhala or Sanskrit) and his parents were Suddhodana and Mahā Māyā. Suddhodana was a king, and Prince Siddhattha was brought up in luxury. For example, in the Mahā Parinibbāna Sutta (DN 10), the Buddha says that he had four palaces for the four seasons. An English translation at, “The Great Discourse on the Buddha’s Extinguishment.”:

- Scattered throughout many suttā in the Digha Nikāya and Majjhima Nikāya are accounts of various stages of the life of the Buddha (before and after Enlightenment.) I will refer to a few below. It is a good idea to read them. Most translations are good enough, especially regarding such life accounts. Only when deep Dhamma concepts are discussed one needs to be careful about the correctness of the translation.
- A brief account of Prince Siddhattha’s life can be found, for example, at “Basic Buddhist Concepts.”: ... ncepts.htm More details — extracted from the Tipiṭaka –at, “A Sketch of the Buddha’s Life – Readings from the Pāli Canon.“:
- At the age of sixteen, Prince Siddhattha married princess Yasodhara. They were happily married for thirteen years and had a son, Rāhula. Yet, Prince Siddhattha was not satisfied. He felt a sense of “discontent” or “dissatisfaction” lingering even while immersed in a luxurious life.
- We will briefly go through a series of events that led to a drastic change in Prince Siddhattha. Those four events are the Four Great Omens.

Four Great Omens

4. On his rare visits outside the palaces, one day Prince Siddhattha saw an old person. He had never seen an old person. His faithful companion, Channa, explained that everyone gets old.

- On a subsequent visit, he saw a sick person and learned that everyone becomes sick. On the third visit, he saw a dead body and was told that one day he would die too. Those three encounters got him to think deeply about life and his discontent with life grew steadily.
- On a subsequent fourth visit outside the palace, the prince saw a recluse, spiritual seeker, and his calm demeanor intrigued the prince. Channa explained to him that there were many recluses like that. They were discontent with life and were in search of a solution to the universal problems associated with life. Those are sicknesses, getting old, and dying.
- As we note below, people at the time of the Buddha were familiar with the concepts of rebirth. Therefore, they knew about the “cycle of suffering in the rebirth process.”
- With the sight of the recluse, prince Siddhattha realized that he would also need to give up the lay-life and pursue the path to end that suffering associated with the perpetual cycle of birth, old age, sicknesses, and death. One dies only to be reborn to go through the same cycle!

Influence of Teachings of Buddha Kassapa

5. Remnants of the teachings of the Buddha Kassapa from the deep past had come down through Vedic teachings. This is a critical point. As we will see later, the Buddha explained that only the mundane interpretations of Buddha Kassapa’s teachings had survived.

- For example, people at that time were quite familiar with the laws of kamma, the rebirth process, five (or eight) precepts, and even Nibbāna. However, Vedic brahmins had used the Sanskrit language to transmit those teachings and used Sanskrit words karma and nirvāna for the Pāli words kamma and Nibbāna.
- In another example, per Tipiṭaka, queen Mahā Māyā had regularly observed eight precepts.
- That is also why there were so many recluses who were trying to figure out the way to Nibbāna (nirvāna), freedom from suffering in the rebirth process. Some of them thought that by cultivating jhāna and getting rebirth in a Brahma realm is nirvāna (or end of suffering.) We will discuss that in the next post.

Renunciation – Becoming a Recluse

6. Shortly after seeing the recluse, Prince Siddhattha left the palace in the middle of the night. Channa led him out on his horse Kanthaka. The prince cut his hair and put on robes suitable for an ascetic. Let us call him ascetic Siddhattha or the Bodhisatta.

- First, the Bodhisatta went to two of the well-known yogis of the day, Āḷāra Kālāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta. They taught him all they knew. He was able to get the highest jhāna (Neva­saññā ­nā­ sañ­ñāyata­na) in a short time. Those teachers thought that they had attained Nibbāna.
- But the Bodhisatta realized that one could not get to Nibbāna merely by suppressing defilements (greed, anger, and ignorance) with breath meditation or mundane versions of kasina mediation. He realized attaining Nibbāna requires the removal of defilements for “complete purification.”
- The Buddha has discussed those interactions with Āḷāra Kālāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta in the “Mahāsaccaka Sutta (MN 36),” “Ariyapariyesana Sutta (MN 26)” and various other suttā.
- You can access translations to English and several other languages by clicking the “down arrow” just above the name of the sutta at Sutta Central.

Six Years of Extreme Asceticism

7. After leaving Āḷāra Kālāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta, the Bodhisatta tried various methods of subjecting his body to extreme hardships. Other than pursuing mundane jhāna/kasina, many yogis at that time thought one could remove defilements by inflicting such punishments to the body.

- Shortly after leaving Āḷāra Kālāma and Uddaka Rāmaputta, the Bodhisatta met five companions, Kondañña, Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahānāma, and Assajī. They were impressed with the Bodhisatta‘s determination and were convinced that one day he will become a Buddha.
- By the way, the word Buddha (and Bhagavath) also came down in Vedic teachings. Bhagavad Gita (or “Recitals of Bhagavad”), for example, has many Vedic teachings that originally came from Buddha Kassapa. Of course, most concepts ended up with mundane interpretations.
- For example, “Brahmāyu Sutta (MN 91)” provides a detailed account of brahmin Brahmāyu who was well-versed in the three Vedā (tiṇṇaṃ vedānaṃ pāragū). At the beginning of the sutta, brahmin Brahmāyu recites the qualities of a Buddha: ‘itipi so bhagavā arahaṃ sammāsambuddho vijjācaraṇasampanno sugato lokavidū anuttaro purisadammasārathi satthā devamanussānaṃ buddho bhagavā’ti. Then he sends his pupil to the Gotama Buddha to check whether he has the “thirty-two marks of a great man (dvattiṃsamahāpurisalakkhaṇāni).” How would brahmin Brahmāyu know about the qualities of a Buddha? It had come down in Vedic teachings! It is good to read the English translation: “With Brahmāyu.”:
- During most of those six years, the Bodhisatta subjected his body to various forms of hardship. The Buddha discussed those unimaginable sufferings in several suttā, including the “Mahāsaccaka Sutta (MN 36).”

Enlightenment (Attaining Buddhahood)

8. Finally, the Bodhisatta realized that subjecting the body to suffering is not the way to cleanse the mind of defilements. The Bodhisatta had to undergo six years of unnecessary suffering due to a hard-to-overcome bad kamma that he had committed against Buddha Kassapa. He had verbally abused Buddha Kassapa. I will just provide the link to the English translation of the sutta, MN 81: “With Ghaṭikāra.”:

- On a Full Moon day in May, the Bodhisatta sat at the foot of a Bodhi tree with a firm determination to attain the Buddhahood. The Buddha described the account of the events during that night in the “Bodhirājakumāra Sutta (MN 85)” among several others.

During the night the Buddha achieved three types of higher knowledge:

(I) Ability to recall one’s past lives (pubbe nivāsānussati ñāṇa),
(ii) The ability to see any living being’s cuti (end of bhava) and patisandhi (grasping of a new bhava). This is the cutūpapāta ñāṇa.
(iii) The attainment of the Buddhahood with āsavakkhaya ñāṇa. That involved grasping the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path to Nibbāna.

- The Bodhisatta was now a fully-awakened Buddha or a Sammāsambuddha. He had gained knowledge about the wider world of 31 realms, how beings are born in those realms according to Paṭicca Samuppāda, etc. It was not mere speculation. He visited those realms and confirmed his findings, as we will discuss.

Events After the Enlightenment

9. The Vinaya Pitaka provides a detailed account of events following the Enlightenment. Here is the English translation, “1. Going forth (Pabbajjā).” : Another resource is discussed in “The Life of the Buddha” by Bhikkhu Nānamoli” at I highly recommend reading those accounts. It provides a good idea of the initiation of the Buddha Sāsana, or the “ministry of the Buddha.”

- Of course, the translations of some critical Pāli words are not correct there, especially anicca and anatta. That occurs in the account where the five ascetics attain Arahanthood over several days of the discussion of the first two suttā, the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (SN 56.11) and the Anattalakkhana Sutta (SN 22.59) as I have discussed in many posts.
- Other than the description of deep Dhamma concepts, most English translations of suttā are good. Accounts on Buddha’s life in many suttā in the Digha Nikāya and Majjhima Nikāya fall into that category.
- However, even then, most translators themselves have doubts about the various abilities of the Buddha. They openly express their doubts even about the validity of the rebirth process, or Buddha’s ability to visit various Deva and Brahma realms (even the existence of such realms), to go through walls, to “touch the Sun and the Moon,” etc. See, “Mystical Phenomena in Buddhism?“ that was posted earlier at Dhamma Wheel on Jul 28, 2019 (p. 73).

The Buddha stated that he never taught anything that he had not verified by himself. Buddha Dhamma is not philosophy. Most “experts” who express such opinions are not even true Buddhists (in the sense of comprehending deep concepts in Buddha Dhamma.) They are “secular Buddhists” who do not believe in rebirth, the FOUNDATION of Buddha Dhamma. Furthermore, they have no background in science (particularly in physics), and do not realize that many “mystical phenomena” are not contradictory to modern physics!

Note on references: As I had mentioned before, I am going to save some time for me by not providing links for posts at The easiest way to find a given post is to just copy the title and enter that in the "Search" box at the top right of The first search result is normally the post in question. Furthermore, one can also see other relevant posts for those keywords. The "Search" function strips off irrelevant words like "and", "the" etc.
- Some of those posts have also been posted here at Dhammawheel.

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Pāṭihāriya (Supernormal Abilities) of a Buddha – Part I

Pāṭihāriya (prātihārya in Sanskrit and ප්‍රාතිහාර්ය in Sinhala) is a supernormal ability or a miracle. Several suttā in the Tipiṭaka discuss them.

Kevaṭṭa Sutta (DN 11)

1. I will extract a few relevant portions of the text from the English translation, “To Kevaṭṭa (DN 11).”: I did not choose the other English translation since it translated “pāṭihāriya” as “a demonstration” rather than a “miracle.” Anyone can do a demonstration. A pāṭihāriya can be performed only by someone with “supernormal capabilities”. As we will see below, these powers are mind-boggling!

- At the beginning of the sutta, Kevaṭṭa, a young householder, comes to the Buddha and says the Buddha should instruct his disciples to perform “miracles” to convince more people to embrace Buddha’s teachings. The Buddha refuses, but explains that there are three types of “miracles.”
- The Buddha replies: “Kevaṭṭa, there are three types of miracles which I have taught, having myself understood and realized them. And what are the three? The miracle of psychic power, the miracle of telepathy, and the miracle of instruction.”

The Miracle of Psychic Power (iddhi Pāṭihāriya)

2. “And what, Kevaṭṭa, is the miracle of psychic power (iddhi pāṭihāriya)?

“Here, Kevaṭṭa, a monk wields various psychic powers: He becomes many and then becomes one again. He appears and vanishes, goes unimpeded through walls, ramparts, and mountains as if through space. He can dive in and out of the Earth as if it were water, and he walks on water without sinking as if it were Earth. Sitting cross-legged, he travels through space like a winged bird. He can touch and stroke the Sun and the moon, so mighty and powerful. He exercises mastery as far as the Brahma-world.”

(The above verse explaining supernormal abilities appears in many suttā, including DN 2, DN 10, DN 28, MN 6, MN 73, MN 77, SN 12.70, SN 16.9, SN 51.11, SN 51.17, AN 3.60, AN 3.101, AN 5.23, AN 6.2, AN 10.97)

- Then the Buddha points out to Kevaṭṭa, that someone who has learned the “Gandhāra Charm” (“Gandhāra Trick” would be a better translation) can do some of that too. That is why the Buddha prohibited the display of such abilities. (Apparently, Gandhāra Trick can be compared to the “magic tricks” performed by magicians like David Copperfield today. However, the Gandhāra Trick seems to be much more powerful than any magic tricks performed today.)

The Miracle of Telepathy (Ādesanā Pāṭihāriya)

3. “And what, Kevaṭṭa, is the miracle of telepathy (ādesanā pāṭihāriya)?

- “Here, a monk reads the minds of other beings, of other people, reads their mental states, their thoughts, and ponderings, and says: ‘That is how your mind is, that is how it inclines, that is in your heart.'”
- Then the Buddha points out that those who have mastered the “Manika Charm” can read other people’s minds as well. Therefore, that also is not impressive.

The Miracle of Instruction (Anusāsanī Pāṭihāriya)

4. “And what, Kevaṭṭa, is the miracle of instruction (anusāsanī pāṭihāriya)?

- “Here, Kevaṭṭa, a monk teaches in this way: ‘Reason in this way, do not reason in that way. Consider this and not that. Get rid of this habit, train yourself, and live life like that.’ This, Kevaṭṭa, is what is called ‘The miracle of instruction.’
- The Buddha goes on to explain in great detail the fruits of such instructions by a learned bhikkhu who has learned Dhamma from the Buddha. How he learns to live a moral life and to cultivate Ariya jhāna by REMOVING defilements. Then the Buddha explains that SOME OF THEM can cultivate all those supernormal powers mentioned above as well.
- First, let us look at the scope and implications of the “psychic powers” (iddhi bala.) All these are performed by a purified mind.

Psychic Powers (Iddhi Pāṭihāriya) – Unimaginable

5. Technological advances drive modern society. Scientists have studied properties of MATTER in great detail and have used those new findings to create “innovative devices” that help us work more efficiently. For example, they can build robotic machines that can do a lot of work that cannot be done by humans.

- So, it is indeed a “miracle” that Ven. Cūḷapanthaka created a thousand “copies” of himself to do work around the temple. Once the work is complete, he can make them disappear. That is what is referred to as “He becomes many and then becomes one again” in #2 above. Relevant information on Ven. Cūḷapanthaka at, “Cūḷapanthaka” and “Dhammapada Verse 25 – Cūlapantaka Vatthu.” ... verse=025a
- Let us discuss a few more of these “miracles” to see how amazing they are.

Traveling Through the Air With Physical Body

6. Another modern technological advance is to be able to travel long distances with cars, airplanes, and rockets. These became possible due to the collective efforts of many thousands of scientists starting from the time of Galileo and Newton, over 300 years ago.

- However, as stated in the above accounts of Ven. Cūḷapanthaka, traveling through the air with one’s physical body is possible after cultivating iddhi bala. That is what is referred to as, “Sitting cross-legged, he travels through space like a winged bird” in #2 above.

7. All these “psychic powers” have their basis in highly concentrated energy produced in the javana citta of the yogi. Yes. even other yogis at the time of the Buddha had cultivated SOME of these powers via cultivating anariya jhāna. They could, for example, travel through the air carrying their physical bodies.

- As we know, javana cittā generate kammic energies that lead to future births. See, “Javana of a Citta – The Root of Mental Power.”
- The intensity or the power of javana citta can be vastly increased for those who have cultivated pāṭihāriyā powers. Such a yogi can set up an “energy field” around his physical body, and that energy-field can be controlled to move the physical body as he wishes.
- The video below demonstrates the basic idea of “electromagnetic levitation.” A yogi would create such an “energy field” around his body and control it to move the body.

- By the way, these days one can buy various “levitating things” like “levitating globes.”

Traveling to a Star System “In an Instant” – With Manomaya Kāya

8. The closest star (possibly with a set of planets) to us is four light-years away. That means if a rocketship travels at the speed of light, it would take four years to get there. For comparison, the distance from the Earth to our Moon would take only 1.5 SECONDS. Therefore, a rocketship traveling at the speed of light will take only 1.25 SECONDS to arrive at the Moon! But our rocketships take about 3 days to get to the Moon. Therefore, with a modern rocketship, it would take about 600 YEARS to get to the NEAREST star.

- The capabilities of the Buddha (and some of his disciples with pāṭihāriyā powers) can be truly astounding. The Buddha could travel anywhere among the 10,000 “world-systems” (dasasahassi lokadhātu). A “world-system” is a set of planets associated with a star, where one planet would have life. In our “Solar system,” the Sun is the star, and life is based on Earth. See, “31 Realms Associated with the Earth.”
- Therefore, it is mind-boggling to even imagine someone traveling to a star that is thousands of light-years away in an instant. Of course, the Buddha would travel such vast distances only with his “mental body” (manōmaya kāya or gandhabba.)
- By the way, Brahmā from such 10,000 world-systems can visit Earth too. They have “bodies” that are equivalent to our mental bodies. They do not have dense physical bodies. Brahmā from the 10,000 world-systems came to listen to the first discourse of the Buddha, Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta.
- Many suttā state that the Buddha would arrive in a Brahma world within the time taken for someone to straighten a bent arm, i.e., less than a second! That is how Brahmā from other world systems came to listen to Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. “Brahma bodies” are almost equivalent to manōmaya kāya of a gandhabba. (In comparison, a modern rocketship takes three days to get to the Moon.)
- Nothing analogous to such fast travel has been even discussed in modern physics yet. I suspect that this is related to the recently established “non-locality” (or “quantum entanglement”) in quantum mechanics: “Quantum Mechanics and Dhamma – Introduction.

Going Through Walls, Mountains, etc.

9. Compared to “traveling through air with the physical body” discussed in #6,#7 above, a much more complex technique comes into play when “going through walls or diving into the Earth.” I have not seen such an action attributed to anariya yogis. In this case, one breaks down the physical body to the elementary level of suddhāṭṭhaka.

“Matter” is mostly empty space. An atom is virtually empty. This basic idea is illustrated in the first 3 minutes of the following video.

“Solid Matter” Is Mostly Empty Space!

10. We can get an idea about “how empty” and atom is, by just watching the first 3 minutes of the above video. As shown there, an atom is more than 99.999% empty!

- Then why is it that we cannot go through a wall? The answer is that two atoms cannot get too close to each other due to electromagnetic forces. That is not discussed in the above video. In a solid, two atoms cannot come too close, because the outer “electron cloud” of one atom will repel that of the second atom. Therefore, even a steel bar is mostly empty space.
- However, the Buddha taught that matter can be reduced a level below that of electrons and protons. That is the suddhāṭṭhaka level where there are no electromagnetic interactions (like the repulsion among electrons.) All the “material stuff” in a physical body can be reduced to an invisible suddhāṭṭhaka level. Scientists now know that an atom is divisible to smaller parts. The recently detected Higgs boson could be at the suddhāṭṭhaka level.
- But scientists cannot reduce bulk matter to the suddhāṭṭhaka level. Moreover, they cannot take an object like an apple, break it down to below the atomic level, and then put it all back together. But one with high-end iddhi powers can do that!
- Such a yogi can reduce one’s own body to the suddhāṭṭhaka level, move it all to another location very quickly and then put it back together! This was discussed in a bit more different way in #6 through #10 in the post, “Mystical Phenomena in Buddhism?“ that I posted on Jul 28, 2019 (p. 73): ... 26#p523126
- That approach of reducing the “material stuff” in a body to a form that can be transported to far destinations at high speed and then “re-assembling” back to the original form is part of science fiction these days, see “teleportation.”: I remember watching the popular movie “The Fly (1986 film).”: In that movie, a fly gets into the “teleportation machine” with the human, and the “re-assembly” at the other end produced a “human fly”!

Comparison With Modern Technology

11. As we can begin to see, modern science and Buddha Dhamma have two very different approaches for dealing with even material phenomena. Science is exclusively based on the study of inert matter. Buddha Dhamma can explain material properties in terms of mental phenomena. Of course, the scientists are still way behind the Buddha.

- From what we discussed above, just think about one comparison. While the Buddha was able to visit Deva and Brahma worlds within a split-second, scientists have only made it to the Moon and that takes three days.
- The scientists are not even aware of the existence of Deva and Brahma realms.
- Deva and Brahma realms are up there above the Earth. They have very little “matter” and that is why scientists cannot see them or their habitats. Our rocketships can go through their habitats without them even noticing it.
- The closest analogy that we have is the depiction of a gandhabba in the 1990 movie “Ghost.’ See, “Ghost 1990 Movie – Good Depiction of Gandhabba Concept” on Jan 18, 2020: ... start=1155 We can get a good idea of why we cannot see Devā or Brahmā (or their habitats) from watching that movie. Devā or Brahmā have “bodies” even more subtle compared to a human gandhabba.
- Unless the scientists can figure out how to implement teleportation, they will not be able to even travel to the nearest star with rocketships. The “mind-based” technique of the Buddha is based on a different paradigm.
- In the Sīsapāvana Sutta (SN 56.31), Buddha stated that he taught only a small fraction of what he knew. See, “In a Rosewood Forest.”:
- There is no need to study or learn about iddhi pāṭihāriya in detail. I am providing this account to establish the following point. By controlling the mind, even a single person can get ahead of many hundreds of years of scientific effort. We will discuss the other two “miracles” in the next post.

Additional Resources

1. There is a Wikipedia article, “Miracles of Gautama Buddha.“: ... ama_Buddha

2. The above video is the second of a series of videos. More information on atoms in the following set of videos:

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

Pāṭihāriya (Supernormal Abilities) of a Buddha – Part II


1. A different paradigm involves controlling material phenomena in Buddha Dhamma compared to modern science. For example, scientists have developed rocket technology to travel to the Moon. The Buddha was able to travel much further and much faster with “mind power” 2600 years ago. We discussed some examples in the previous post; see, “Pāṭihāriya (Supernormal Abilities) of a Buddha – Part I.”

- The mind-based approach of Buddha Dhamma is much more powerful. Such unimaginable powers MAY ARISE automatically by just cleansing or purifying one’s mind. However, only certain people can develop such abilities to control material phenomena. They had cultivated such powers in recent past lives.
- What is the use of being able to fly through the air like a bird or being able to travel to the Sun instantly and touch it if one is to born as an animal or worse in a future life?
- Controlling material phenomena is of no use to get a resolution to the universal problem of suffering associated with the rebirth process.
- That is why the Buddha explained to Kevaṭṭa that the miracle of instruction is the most important. Only a Buddha or a true disciple of the Buddha can provide such guidance as to how one can understand the problem of saṃsāric suffering and learn how to overcome it.

The Miracle of Instruction (Anusāsana Pāṭihāriya)

2. In the Kevaṭṭa Sutta (DN 11), the Buddha explains to Kevaṭṭa that a Buddha (Tathāgata) arises in the world with the perfect knowledge about the world. Then anyone could learn his teachings and follow them to reach full release from future suffering via attaining Nibbāna (Arahanthood.) The Buddha in that sutta describes the steps a Bhikkhu would go through, but the process is similar (and less strict) for a lay-follower.

- He would Iive a moral life, abstaining from killing/hurting other living-beings, without using improper forms of speech, and also controlling greed and anger. Most of all, he would learn the true nature of this world and remove many ingrained wrong views about this world. See, “Micchā Diṭṭhi, Gandhabba, and Sōtapanna Stage.”
- Most of the first half of the sutta describes the recommended (more strict) lifestyle of a bhikkhu. It is a good idea to read the second half starting with the section on “Restraint of the Sense Faculties.” See the English translation, “To Kevaṭṭa (DN 11).”
- The Buddha advised a “middle-of-the-way” lifestyle that is away from both making one’s body to hardships AND indulgence in sense pleasures.
While following the Buddha’s path, some people may also attain the ability to control material phenomena with psychic power (iddhi pāṭihāriya.) Let us specifically discuss that briefly now.

What Are Iddhi?

3. Iddhi means “to cultivate” or to “grow” or “to make better.”

- Those “supernormal” abilities that we discussed in the previous post result from cultivating four mental capabilities (Cattāro Iddhipādā.) They are chanda (desire for spiritual development/to attain Nibbāna,) citta (the mindset for that goal,) viriya (the effort,) and vīmaṃsā (figuring out the way by investigating.) The “Vibhaṅga Sutta (SN 51.20)” discusses those factors in detail. It is a good idea to read the English translation there and also “Iddhipada-vibhanga Sutta: Analysis of the Bases of Power.”
- Note that chanda here does not refer to the desire for sensual pleasures (icchā.) Instead, it relates to a yearning for spiritual progress (for anariya yogis) and the desire to attain Nibbāna for those who are on the Noble Eightfold Path.
- While anariaya yogis can attain some supernormal powers, those achieved by Ariyā (Noble Persons with magga phala) are much more potent or powerful. Furthermore, an anariya yogi could lose those abilities (just like the ability to get into anariya jhāna) even in this lifetime.

Anariya Iddhi Powers Are Temporary

4. The Tipiṭaka account of Devadatta clearly illustrates this point. He was able to cultivate anariya jhāna and had developed some supernormal powers (iddhi) as well.

- By performing some supernormal tasks, Devadatta was able to impress Prince Ajātasattu. Having assumed the form of a young boy clad in a girdle of snakes, he appeared in Prince Ajātasattu’s lap. Prince Ajātasattu was highly impressed and became a devout follower. Devadatta started thinking about “replacing Buddha to lead the order of Saṅgha.” With that thought, Devadatta lost his supernormal capabilities.
- Still, Devadatta did not lose his ambition to “become the Buddha.” Later on, he tried to take the life of the Buddha in several attempts. In the end, he was born in an apāya.
- The details are in the section starting with “The story of Devadatta” at, “Schism in an Order (Saṅghabheda).”: It is a long read up to the end of the post, but it is worthwhile.

What Is the Basis of Such Iddhi Powers?

5. This is where we start understanding the basis of “mental power.”

- A mind burdened with greed, anger, and ignorance (about the real nature of this world) has no “strong and beneficial” abilities. Instead, such minds create “dark kammic energies,” leading to unpleasant kamma vipāka in general and also rebirths in “bad realms.” We know that those undesired realms are the apāyā or the four lowest realms. The Pali terms for those three bad causes are lobha, dosa, moha.
- If a mind is absent from those three primary defilements, then actions (kamma) by such a “non-contaminated mind” create “clean kammic energies.” Those lead to good kamma vipāka and rebirths in the 27 “good realms” lying at and above the human realm. In the absence of lobha, dosa, and moha, a mind creates kammic energies with, of course, alobha, adosa, amoha. Those are the three good causes.

Births in the Four Lowest Realms Arise Due to Actions with Lobha, Dosa, Moha

6. The “dark energies” associated with thoughts associated with lobha, dosa, moha create “kammic energies” that can bring births (jāti) in the apāyā. Those energies are “bhava” in the Paṭicca Samuppāda process. Therefore, “bhava paccayā jāti” means a “bad bhava” leads to a corresponding “bad birth.”

- With the more robust the level of ignorance (moha,) the easier it is to do the seven akusala kammā. Those are false, hurtful, deceitful, and vain speech and killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct.
- A mind that free of lobha, dosa, moha (i.e., with alobha, adosa, amoha) is a “moral mind”. It would know the difference between moral deeds and immoral deeds. In particular, it would try to avoid the seven akusala kammā done with speech and bodily actions.

Births Above the Human Realm Arise Due to Actions with Alobha, Adosa, Amoha

7. There are 26 realms above the human realm (six Deva, sixteen rupāvacara Brahma, and four arupāvacara Brahma realms.) Such births arise due to bhava energies created with thoughts devoid of greed and anger. Here deep ignorance or moha is absent and, thus, amoha. However, as we will see, there is still ignorance about the true nature of the world (avijjā) left in mind.

- In other words, births in the 26 “good realms” arise due to the three root causes of alobha, adosa, amoha.
Because of that, lives in those realms are relatively free of harsh sufferings.
- If we look at the lifetimes of those realms, they become longer for higher realms. See, “31 Realms of Existence.”
- The human realm is also “good,” but there is significant suffering too. So, we need to treat the human realm differently from the other 30 realms. We discuss that now.

The Human Realm is Unique

8. Human births could arise due to combinations of all six root causes.

- There are three main types of humans. Some have tihetuka births, meaning that particular human birth was due to a kamma with the three “good roots” of alobha, adosa, amoha. Another set of humans have only two good roots (dvihetuka births), either alobha/amoha or adosa/amoha. The third type has only one good root of amoha. Those are ahetuka births because they are “unfortunate births.” (The word “ahetuka” here does not mean the absence of even a single good root)
- It is not possible to distinguish between tihetuka and dvihetuka births. But it is relatively easy to identify ahetuka births because they have little intelligence.
- All three types of humans experience both good and bad kamma. Even tihetuka people can come down with disease or injury. Even though the Deva realms also belong to the kāma loka (just like the human realm,) the bodies of Devā are not dense enough to cause any diseases/injuries.
- The root causes and how they lead to rebirths discussed in, “Six Root Causes – Loka Samudaya (Arising of Suffering) and Loka Nirodhaya (Nibbāna).”

Second Uniqueness of the Human Realm

9. The human realm is also unique in the following way. Most rebirths are determined while in the human realm. Then they spend the lives in either lower or higher realms until the corresponding kamma vipāka are “paid off.” For example, a given human may do some bad deeds suitable for births in apāya but may change the lifestyle and cultivate jhāna. So, he/she would have created both good and bad bhava. Since developing a jhāna is an anantariya kamma, a Brahma birth will come at his/her death. But unless he/she had attained a magga phala, a birth in an apāya will result after exhausting time in the Brahma realm.

- As we remember from the post, “Buddhism and Evolution – Aggañña Sutta (DN 27),” a newly-formed Earth would be entirely populated by humans (with Brahma-like subtle bodies.) But with time, cravings arise due to anusaya, and those with “bad gati” will be reborn in lower realms. If a Buddha does not appear in a given eon, most humans end up in the lower realms sooner. It is a complex issue.
- More details on anusaya at, “Āsava, Anusaya, and Gati (Gathi).”

Living-Beings in Lower Realms Have Denser Bodies in General

10. In general, living-beings in the kāma loka (four lower realms, the human realm, and six Deva realms) have dense bodies with five sense faculties. In most cases, sensing odors, tastes, and bodily-touches REQUIRE dense bodies.

- Most living-beings have a craving for those “close-proximity” sense pleasures. They like to eat tasty foods, smell sweet odors, and to engage in sex. As long as a living-being does not lose cravings, they WILL NOT be free from the kāma loka. Now, some may cultivate anariya jhāna and be born in a Brahma realm but will return to the human realm at the end of that life.
- As we mentioned earlier, Devā do enjoy such ‘close contacts,” but those contacts are “softer.” In Pali, the word “olarika” implies “close contacts with dense bodies in human and lower realms.” In the Deva realms, the contacts and bodies are “sukuma” or softer. Devā also can be born in the apāyā after they exhaust their Deva lifetimes.

The Journey Among the 31 Realms Is Perpetual

11. The above process has been going on for any of us from a time that is not possible to trace back. That is the saṃsāric journey or the rebirth process.

- Unfortunately, most of those births are in the four lower realms or apāyā. But, of course, we would not know all this unless we learn it from a Buddha or a disciple of the Buddha.
- The “suffering” in the First Noble Truth is the harsh suffering in the apāyā. Any pain and suffering that we FEEL NOW are due to past causes. We need to use appropriate medical treatments to alleviate such suffering.
- The First Noble Truth of Suffering refers to the harsh FUTURE suffering associated with the rebirth process. The good news is that the Buddha also explained how to stop that future suffering.

The Miracle of Instruction (Anusāsana Pāṭihāriya) of a Buddha

12. The above description of the real nature of our world with 31 realms and a beginning-less rebirth process is not known to the world in the absence of a Buddha. Only a Buddha can discover them and explain it to the world. Furthermore, a Buddha also provides instructions on how to stop the perpetual suffering in the rebirth process.

- Those two aspects involve the “Miracle of Instruction (Anusāsana Pāṭihāriya)” of a Buddha.
- The other two “miracles” of psychic powers and telepathy are just two byproducts. But, as the Buddha told Kevaṭṭa in the Kevaṭṭa Sutta (DN 11), those are not that different from “magic tricks.” They are real and not magic, as I have explained in “Pāṭihāriya (Supernormal Abilities) of a Buddha – Part I” and “Mystical Phenomena in Buddhism? ” Still, they are not of long-term value.
- What is the use of being able to fly through the air like a bird or being able to travel to the Sun instantly and touch it if one is to born as an animal or worse in a future life?
- In the same way, what is the use of accumulation of billions of dollars in this life, only to be reborn an animal in a future life?
- This is why the Buddha advised us to focus on attaining Nibbāna. At least the Sotapanna stage of Nibbāna.
- We will focus on the “Miracle of Instruction of a Buddha” in the upcoming posts. Then it will become apparent, from yet another angle, the uniqueness of Buddha Dhamma.

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Re: The teachings of Ven. Waharaka Abhayaratanalankara Thero

Post by Lal »

I will start a new series of posts on "Buddha Dhamma – A Scientific Approach."

Introduction – A Scientific Approach to Buddha Dhamma

A Scientific Approach to Buddha Dhamma

1. Buddha Dhamma is the Grand Unified Theory (a theory that explains everything about this world) that scientists are seeking. They do not realize it because the correct version of it, with its deeper aspects, has not been available in English. There are two major relevant points.

- First, scientists will never get to a Grand Unified Theory until they realize that mental phenomena must be a part of such a theory. Modern science only focuses on just “material phenomena.” The reason is the following incorrect assumption by them: Psychological (mental) aspects arise from matter. The Buddha taught that it is the other way around: Mind is the forerunner of ALL phenomena, mental and material.
- The second point is the following. When scientists propose a brand new theory, they just use a set of assumptions. Some assumptions (axioms) are revolutionary and opposed by other scientists at the beginning. We will discuss such a prominent case below. The point is that they are not starting off with a truly essential set of axioms that cover mental as well as physical phenomena.

I will use the standard scientific method in this series of posts. I will start with a set of “assumptions,” even though those are NOT ASSUMPTIONS for a Buddha. Upon attaining the Buddhahood, a Buddha DISCOVERS those fundamental laws of Nature.

What Is a Scientific Approach?

2. Most of the time, science makes progress in a gradual step-by-step way. An existing scientific theory is “tweaked” to get a better agreement with new experimental results.

- However, In some cases, scientists come with “previously unheard” theories to explain new observations. Most other scientists are first skeptical about such a drastically new approach. But if it turns out to be able to explain observations, then it becomes accepted over time.
- Such a “revolutionary change” is a paradigm change. A good example is theories on atomic structure. There, paradigm changes happened twice within the past 100 years, as we will see below.

Western Theories of the Atom Started with Democritus

3. Around the time of the Buddha, Democritus (400 B.C.E.) proposed that all matter is made of indivisible particles called atoms. But nothing much was known about atoms at that time.

- Democritus just assumed that if one keeps cutting in half a piece of a given material (say, an aluminum foil), it will reach a stage where it would not be possible to cut. That ultimate “indivisible” unit, he called an “atom.”
- That picture has changed drastically over the years, especially within the past 150 years or so.
- Of course, Buddha’s ultimate unit of matter was a suddhāṭṭhaka. It is also electrically-neutral, just as Democritus’ atom. However, a mind can create a suddhāṭṭhaka with javana citta. A suddhāṭṭhaka is a billionth times smaller than an atom in modern science. See, “The Origin of Matter – Suddhāṭṭhaka.”

Modern Theories of the Atom

4. John Dalton, in 1803, proposed a modern theory of the atom. He suggested that different materials are made of different atoms and that a given atom cannot be broken down into smaller parts.

- For example, an oxygen atom would be eight times bigger than a hydrogen atom, but an oxygen atom CANNOT be made by combining eight hydrogen atoms. Hydrogen and oxygen have different types of “building blocks” or different atoms.
- Dalton was able to make some progress with his model.

Plum-Pudding Model of the Atom by J. J. Thomson

5. In the late 1800s, there were many experiments on electrical discharges. J. J. Thomson discovered that negatively-charged electrons could be removed from an atom. Since atoms are electrically neutral, in 1904, he proposed that an atom is made of a positively-charged material with electrons embedded in it.

- That is analogous to plums embedded in a pudding. Thus, it came to be known as the “plum-pudding model” of an atom. See, “Plum Pudding Model” for that model of an atom.
- The following video illustrates this point:

- Therefore, the indivisibility of the atom was no longer accepted. Yet, Thomson’s model still preserved one aspect of the original model of Democritus. An atom could be visualized as a “single unit” with two kinds of particles packed together. Later on, a neutral particle (neutron) was also found to be inside an atom.

Rutherford’s Discovery of Mass-Concentrated Nucleus

6. Soon after that another English physicist, Ernest Rutherford, directed small alpha particles (much smaller than an atom) to a thin gold foil. He observed that most particles went right through the foil. However, some got deflected and a few even bounced back. It appeared that the atoms were mostly empty space, but there was something dense and small in there that bounced off some of the projectile particles.

- Based on those experiments, Rutherford, in 1911, proposed a radically new theory of the atom. He proposed that the positively-charged component of an atom be in a tiny volume in comparison to the rest of the atom. That central volume also contained the bulk of the mass of the atom. This region would be known as the “nucleus” of the atom. Negatively-charged electrons would be outside that nucleus, but Rutherford did not propose a model for that “outer layer” of the atom with electrons.

Bohr’s Planetary Model of the Atom

7. In 1913, Niels Bohr came up with another paradigm change for atomic structure. He purposed that the electrons “revolved around” a tiny nucleus, a small core that contained all the protons. That is similar to the structure of the Solar System, where the planets revolve around the Sun.

- Thus, some called it the “planetary model” another name for the “Bohr Model.” : planetary model of the atom was able to explain many experimental observations.

- Atoms of different materials have different numbers of protons (and electrons). For example, a hydrogen atom has one proton in the nucleus and one electron moving around it. An oxygen atom has eight protons and eight electrons, etc. 
- However, Bohr’s planetary model unable to explain a growing number of other observations.

Quantum Mechanics

8. In the end, the planetary model of the atom was replaced by another change of paradigm. That was the modern quantum mechanical treatment of the atom. It was first postulated by Wolfgang Pauli in 1925, using Heisenberg’s matrix mechanics.

- Many other scientists including Einstein, Max Planck, Niels Bohr, and Erwin Schrödinger contributed to the development and refinement of the new quantum theory. They postulated the occurrence of energy in discrete quantities (quanta) in order to explain phenomena such as the spectrum of black-body radiation, the photoelectric effect, and the stability and spectra of atoms. Thus the name “quantum mechanics.”
- In quantum theory, the position of an electron in an orbital cannot be specified. One could only calculate the likelihood of an electron being at a given location. It is known as the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. See, “Copenhagen interpretation.”:
- That is the accepted theory at present. However, there are still many unresolved issues in quantum mechanics. Even though it is able to calculate the results of ANY experiment, it is “too abstract” for many, including Einstein. The current position is summarized by the sentence “Shut up and calculate!” as discussed in the above post, “Copenhagen interpretation.” I have discussed a new interpretation of quantum mechanics, “Quantum Mechanics and Dhamma – Introduction.”

Ability to Explain Observations – Primary Requirement of a Scientific Theory

9. The determining factors of a scientific theory are the ability to explain observations and self-consistency. It does not matter how crazy the new theory appears to be, as long as it meets those two criteria. As we saw above, quantum theory is accepted today despite not being an “understandable” theory.

- In fact, as long as a theory fulfills those criteria, objections by even the most prominent scientists cannot prevent a good theory from taking hold.
- For example, Einstein opposed quantum theory. He tried to come up with a “better explanation” until he died. Despite his objections, quantum theory became firmly established.
- Quantum theory, in its current form, is incomprehensible to even many scientists. The problem is that it is just a mathematical tool to make calculations. Even physicists do not have an “intuitive grasp” of the underlying aspects of quantum mechanics.

Scientific Approach to Buddha Dhamma

10. In this section, we will use the above discussed “scientific approach.” We will start with the “new theory about the world” put forth by the Buddha. It was a revolutionary theory 2600 years ago and still remains a revolutionary theory today.

- Just like even Einstein was unable to come to terms with the quantum theory, many people today find it difficult to comprehend Buddha Dhamma.
- However, much of the current confusion lies in the fact that many people are not aware of the “full and complete theory” of Buddha Dhamma. They have seen only parts of Buddha’s theory and conclude that those ideas are too “esoteric” or “mystical.”
- Yet, unlike quantum mechanics, anyone can understand Buddha Dhamma, if the basic principles are understood.
- I hope that by presenting a “complete theory” using a “bottom-up approach” we can take a fresh perspective of some concepts like kamma, rebirth, and Nibbāna.

The Necessary Components of Buddha Dhamma

11. We need to convince ourselves of the validity of the basic concepts in Buddha Dhamma before being able to comprehend the deeper teachings like Paṭicca Samuppāda, Tilakkhana (anicca, dukkha, anatta,) and the Four Noble Truths.

- Those basic concepts (equivalent to “assumptions” or “axioms” in scientific theories) are the laws of kamma, the existence of 31 realms, and the rebirth process within those realms.
- However, those concepts are not assumptions. They are laws of Nature, discovered by a Buddha. When one starts understanding (and practicing) Buddha Dhamma, one will see the truth of that statement.


1. Wikipedia article, “Scientific method“:

2. Here is another video that provides a somewhat different perspective of the evolution of theories of atoms:

Note: I am going to save some time for me by not providing links for posts at The easiest way to find a given post is to just copy the title and enter that in the "Search" box at the top right of The first search result is normally the post in question. Furthermore, one can also see other relevant posts for those keywords. The "Search" function strips off irrelevant words like "and", "the" etc.
- Some of those posts have also been posted here at Dhammawheel.

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