Mind-made body - a question

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halwilson
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Re: Mind-made body - a question

Post by halwilson » Wed Jan 14, 2009 11:59 am

srivijaya wrote: I would be interested to know where Buddhaghosa drew this information from and whether there are more comprehensive teachings on this topic elsewhere within the Theravadan school. Does the tradition of these teachings still survive and has anyone ever met, or heard of, individuals who have attained this?

Namaste
Hi srivijaya,

I don't know if this is an example of a mind-made body or levitation, but there is a well-known story in Thailand of a forest monk, Luang Puu Waen:

"In the late 1960's, an airforce pilot noticed a monk sitting on the clouds meditating and when he returned to base made enquiries which revealed that it could only have been over Wat Doi Pang where Waen was staying. Since that time Waen became famous and tales passed around and multiplied. Not long before his death, when asked about this mystifying tale and whether it was him sitting on the clouds, Waen dryly replied, 'You think I'm a bird?'. But seemingly he never actually denied it and so the story remains in the minds and hearts of many Thai Buddhists." ( J. L. Taylor, _Forest Monks and the Nation-State_, p. 164).

Cheers, Hal
"We had the experience, but missed the meaning" T. S. Eliot

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srivijaya
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Re: Mind-made body - a question

Post by srivijaya » Wed Jan 14, 2009 1:33 pm

Thanks Hal,
That reminds me of some accounts I heard from a Buddhist friend who had spent time in the forests of Thailand. I guess if monks are on the right path, some at least may manifest siddhis of one kind or another. To boast or even discuss this is discouraged for the best of reasons, as they are not the aim of the path but I would be very surprised if they never happened.
If the account is correct, it may have been a case of mind-made body, as that is the one which the suttas claim can walk through mountains etc.

It seems, though, that there is no systematic teaching of this left within the mainstream tradition, so no way of verifying it one way or another.

Namaste

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Dhammanando
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Re: Mind-made body - a question

Post by Dhammanando » Wed Jan 14, 2009 4:39 pm

Hi Srivijaya,
srivijaya wrote:If the account is correct, it may have been a case of mind-made body, as that is the one which the suttas claim can walk through mountains etc.
If the account is correct, surely it would be iddhividdhā, the first of the six abhiññā, in which it is one's own body that performs the feats described.
  • Here some ascetic or Brahmin enjoys various supernormal powers (iddhividdhā): being one, he becomes many; being many, he becomes one; he appears and disappears; he passes through fences, walls and mountains unhindered as if through air; he sinks into the ground and emerges from it as if it were water; he walks on the water without breaking the surface as if on land; he flies cross-legged through the sky like a bird with wings; he even touches and strokes with his hand the sun and moon, mighty and powerful as they are; and he travels in the body as far as the Brahma world. (DN. 28)
According to the Visuddhimagga's treatment of manomaya iddhi, if Luang Puu Waen (a non-Buddha) had developed this power, the body would not have been able to fly through the air and overtake jet aircraft. It would have just sat on a chair smoking banana-leaf cheroots like the monk himself. :)

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

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gavesako
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Re: Mind-made body - a question

Post by gavesako » Wed Jan 14, 2009 5:25 pm

Someone apparently asked him later and LP Waen replied that he had projected just an image of himself towards the direction of a certain tree, but it ended up in the sky!
Bhikkhu Gavesako
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appicchato
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Re: Mind-made body - a question

Post by appicchato » Wed Jan 14, 2009 8:48 pm

...Waen dryly replied, 'You think I'm a bird?'
This, from a guy well past a hundred (and ninety some years in the robes)... :twothumbsup:

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halwilson
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Re: Mind-made body - a question

Post by halwilson » Thu Jan 15, 2009 12:19 am

Luang Poo Waen was a monk for 78 years and lived to 98. There is an original English newspaper article about the event that provoked Waen's wry remark here:

http://thaiamulets.net/luang_pu_waen_1.htm

http://thaiamulets.net/luang_pu_waen_2.htm

Curiously, after visiting the ailing monk, the English author and his medical companions entered another room and saw a duplicate of Waen, which made them wonder "which one was the real Luang Bhu Waen". No doubt the highly realistic wax-made likeness of Waen seemed all the more convincing as the ailing monk they had just visited hadn't appeared to move either.

Cheers, Hal
"We had the experience, but missed the meaning" T. S. Eliot

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Re: Mind-made body - a question

Post by Dhammanando » Thu Jan 15, 2009 12:40 am

Hi Hal,
halwilson wrote:No doubt the highly realistic wax-made likeness of Waen seemed all the more convincing as the ailing monk they had just visited hadn't appeared to move either.
The English monk Bodhidhamma told me that when he was practising in Burma with Mahasi Sayadaw, one day he entered a room in which a waxwork model of the sayadaw had just been installed, and proceeded to prostrate to it, believing it to be the man himself. (His point, btw, in relating the story was to convey some idea of the sayadaw's stillness and restraint, not the skillfulness of Burmese waxwork-making).

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

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srivijaya
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Re: Mind-made body - a question

Post by srivijaya » Thu Jan 15, 2009 1:20 pm

Thanks for the article Hal. What a story.

And thanks to the sangha for their replies.

There's hope yet then :twothumbsup:

Dhammanando, as to the 'solidity' of the levitating monk, I shall defer to your experience. 8-)

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Anders
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Re: Mind-made body - a question

Post by Anders » Thu Jan 15, 2009 8:02 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Individual,

However, it says nothing about "mind precedes all physical states".

Nor do I recall anything in the suttas that says anything to this effect either.

Metta,
Retro. :)

erm... what comes first in the chain of dependent origination?

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Re: Mind-made body - a question

Post by Individual » Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:01 pm

Anders Honore wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Individual,

However, it says nothing about "mind precedes all physical states".

Nor do I recall anything in the suttas that says anything to this effect either.

Metta,
Retro. :)

erm... what comes first in the chain of dependent origination?
The chain of dependent origination is exactly that -- a chain. The particular organization, with sankhara being second, vinanna being third, and name-and-form, birth, etc., following all of this, is only an arbitrary classification (since you have to start somewhere and that's a good enough way of describing it). Retrofuturist showed me a sutta a while ago -- not sure about the name, but he could tell you -- where the Buddha described dependent origination in non-linear terms. That is, even within dependent origination, it's not a linear relationship, where ignorance is the "first cause," and it goes from one step to another, but there is a great diversity of karmic activity, with each re-arising of each chain of dependent origination.

Your question, then, is like asking, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?"
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: Mind-made body - a question

Post by stuka » Fri Jan 16, 2009 4:05 am

Individual wrote:
Anders Honore wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Individual,

However, it says nothing about "mind precedes all physical states".

Nor do I recall anything in the suttas that says anything to this effect either.

Metta,
Retro. :)

erm... what comes first in the chain of dependent origination?
The chain of dependent origination is exactly that -- a chain. The particular organization, with sankhara being second, vinanna being third, and name-and-form, birth, etc., following all of this, is only an arbitrary classification (since you have to start somewhere and that's a good enough way of describing it). Retrofuturist showed me a sutta a while ago -- not sure about the name, but he could tell you -- where the Buddha described dependent origination in non-linear terms. That is, even within dependent origination, it's not a linear relationship, where ignorance is the "first cause," and it goes from one step to another, but there is a great diversity of karmic activity, with each re-arising of each chain of dependent origination.

Your question, then, is like asking, "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?"

Agreed. Anders is asking the wrong question. The right question is: How does suffering arise? What are its causes and sustaining conditions? How does one remove these causes so that suffering can be quenched?

Ignorance --> The Person --> Suffering.

Paticcasamuppada, which derives from idappaccayata, is a concomitant process, rather than a sequential one.


Imasmim sati idam hoti
When there is this, that is.
Imasuppada idam upajjati With the arising of this, that arises.
Imasmim asati idam na hoti When this is not, neither is that.
Imassa nirodha idam nirujjhati With the cessation of this, that ceases.

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Re: Mind-made body - a question

Post by retrofuturist » Fri Jan 16, 2009 6:08 am

Greetings Anders,
erm... what comes first in the chain of dependent origination?
Ignorance (of the Four Noble Truths) conditions kammic formators... but I don't see the relevance of the question.

As Stuka alludes to above, dependent origination is a model of suffering (which is the domain of the Buddha). It is not a model of transmigration, nor is it about the arising and passing away of all phenomena within the universe.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

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Re: Mind-made body - a question

Post by Anders » Fri Jan 16, 2009 12:12 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Anders,
erm... what comes first in the chain of dependent origination?
Ignorance (of the Four Noble Truths) conditions kammic formators... but I don't see the relevance of the question.

As Stuka alludes to above, dependent origination is a model of suffering (which is the domain of the Buddha). It is not a model of transmigration, nor is it about the arising and passing away of all phenomena within the universe.

Metta,
Retro. :)
I agree it doesn't depict causation temporally (ie once upon a time ignorance appeared, the mountains and rivers arose and everything sucked from then on), but it nonetheless depicts the structural relationship of body and mind and shows mind-factors to be antecedent to the body.

Transmigration can be quite naturally inferred from this, since it demonstrates that that there are mindcauses that do not arise due to the body (but nonetheless exist co-dependedly on it and hence will conjoin with a new one) and thus will persist after the breakup of the body unless they cease in the present life (such as is the case for arahants). Or 'preceede physical states' if you will.

The right question is indeed, how does suffering and cease, but this ties quite naturally into transmigration, since it is the causes of perpetual transmigration (and thus, the indefinite perpetration of dhukkha) that are uprooted through this.

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Re: Mind-made body - a question

Post by stuka » Fri Jan 16, 2009 7:35 pm

Anders Honore wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Anders,
erm... what comes first in the chain of dependent origination?
Ignorance (of the Four Noble Truths) conditions kammic formators... but I don't see the relevance of the question.

As Stuka alludes to above, dependent origination is a model of suffering (which is the domain of the Buddha). It is not a model of transmigration, nor is it about the arising and passing away of all phenomena within the universe.

Metta,
Retro. :)
I agree it doesn't depict causation temporally (ie once upon a time ignorance appeared, the mountains and rivers arose and everything sucked from then on), but it nonetheless depicts the structural relationship of body and mind and shows mind-factors to be antecedent to the body.

Transmigration can be quite naturally inferred from this, since it demonstrates that that there are mindcauses that do not arise due to the body (but nonetheless exist co-dependedly on it and hence will conjoin with a new one) and thus will persist after the breakup of the body unless they cease in the present life (such as is the case for arahants). Or 'preceede physical states' if you will.
Sounds terribly convoluted. Of course, anyone can infer all kinds of speculative views. There really is nothing that demonstrates any sort of link or cause for the sort of transmigration you speculate, or any other transmigration/reincarnation theory.

The right question is indeed, how does suffering and cease, but this ties quite naturally into transmigration, since it is the causes of perpetual transmigration (and thus, the indefinite perpetration of dhukkha) that are uprooted through this.

The Buddha taught that when one takes care of suffering in the here and now, whatever might transpire in the future naturally follows. Kinda renders any concerns over what might or might not happen when one dies irrelevant.

Individual
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Re: Mind-made body - a question

Post by Individual » Fri Jan 16, 2009 8:27 pm

Anders Honore wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Anders,
erm... what comes first in the chain of dependent origination?
Ignorance (of the Four Noble Truths) conditions kammic formators... but I don't see the relevance of the question.

As Stuka alludes to above, dependent origination is a model of suffering (which is the domain of the Buddha). It is not a model of transmigration, nor is it about the arising and passing away of all phenomena within the universe.

Metta,
Retro. :)
I agree it doesn't depict causation temporally (ie once upon a time ignorance appeared, the mountains and rivers arose and everything sucked from then on), but it nonetheless depicts the structural relationship of body and mind and shows mind-factors to be antecedent to the body.

Transmigration can be quite naturally inferred from this, since it demonstrates that that there are mindcauses that do not arise due to the body (but nonetheless exist co-dependedly on it and hence will conjoin with a new one) and thus will persist after the breakup of the body unless they cease in the present life (such as is the case for arahants). Or 'preceede physical states' if you will.

The right question is indeed, how does suffering and cease, but this ties quite naturally into transmigration, since it is the causes of perpetual transmigration (and thus, the indefinite perpetration of dhukkha) that are uprooted through this.
Now, I would agree with Anders here. It does show the structural relationship of body and mind, and reality too, not merely being a model "of suffering."

To borrow some western philosophical terms as a means of perhaps clarifying the nature of the Twelve Nidanas: Western philosophy beginning with Kant distinguishes between phenomenon (appearances, objects dependent on the senses) and noumenon (objects independent of the senses, in and of themselves, as they really are). From a Buddhist perspective, this distinction is incoherent, since there is no "noumenon," that could be described or discovered apart from that which is dependent on the senses. Abstract philosophy and papanca could be described as speculation about this noumenon, this "truth somewhere in the sky," but the Twelve Nidanas describe very real phenomenon (so it can be called Buddhist phenomenology), which accounts for all experiences, and wisdom is the correct and clear seeing of phenomenon as they actually are... And from this, one could infer transmigration if, by transmigration, you mean the rebirth of mind-and-body in such a way that mind-and-body is neither annihilated at death nor continues, but operates in accordance with the Twelve Nidanas, among which there is no self to be found.

The term "perpetual transmigration," is problematic, possibly misleading. The term "perpetual," is etymologically related to "permanent," and "transmigration," generally implies a reincarnation of a self or soul. You shouldn't even subtly suggest that there is eternal reincarnation. It always seems clearer to me to be much more specific and relate the teaching to impermanence: that the impermanent cycle of suffering (impermanent based on liberation, not impermanent on death) manifests an impermanent life, which eventually has an impermanent death, until a new impermanent life and death is formed, in accordance with the action of the previous iteration.
The best things in life aren't things.

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