Ajahn Mun's teaching on Primal Mind

In Ajahn Mun’s book “A HEART RELEASED”, the root cause of everything in the universe is mentioned as mano(heart)/thitibhutam. Is this a way of summarizing the paticca samuppada?

Section 4. The root foundation for the practice.
… //Mano//, the heart, is primal, the great foundation. Everything we do or say comes from the heart, as stated in the Buddha’s words: //mano-pubbangama dhamma , mano-settha mano-maya//:

Section 5. The root cause of everything in the universe
Thus //mano//, discussed in Section 4; //thitibhutam//, which will be discussed in Section 6; and the great cause discussed here all refer to the same thing. … – for everything in the world comes about due to the great cause. Even the transcendent dhammas are reached by the great cause. This is why the Patthana is said to be infinite in its scope. Whoever trains the heart, the great cause, until it is clear and dazzling, is capable of knowing everything of every sort infinitely, both within and without.

Section 6. The root instigator of the cycle of death and rebirth.
//thitibhutam avijja paccaya sankhara…upadanam…bhavo…jati…// Each and every one of us born as a human being has a birthplace: we have our parents as our birthplace. So why did the Buddha formulate the teaching on sustained conditions only from the factor of unawareness onwards? What unawareness comes from, he didn’t say. Unawareness has to have a mother and father just as we do, and we learn from the above line that //thitibhutam// is its mother and father. //Thitibhutam// refers to the primal mind. … Awareness and unawareness both come from //thitibhutam//.
To summarize: //Thitibhutam// is the primal instigator of the cycle of death and rebirth. Thus it is called the root source of the three (see Section 12). When we are to cut the cycle of death and rebirth so that it disconnects and vanishes into nothingness, we have to train the primal instigator to develop awareness, alert to all conditions for what they really are. It will then recover from its delusion and never give rise to any conditions again. //Thitibhutam//, the root instigator, will stop spinning, and this will end our circling through the cycle of death and rebirth.

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Okay, well, just a few remarks here. The word ṭhītibhutaṁ as quoted in the book doesn’t exist in Pali. Presumably it’s a misspelling of ṭhitibhūta, which occurs twice in subcommentaries (using the very large corpus of the VRI texts). In neither case does it have anything to do with dependent origination.

In one case, it refers to a natural lake which was seen when full, but which meanwhile has become stuck in an unfull state (much like an Australian dam!) (jātassare paripuṇṇameva udakaṃ nimittūpagaṃ disvā aparipuṇṇaṃ antarā ṭhitibhūtaṃ). In the other case, when commenting on a person’s view that “nothing is acceptable to me” (MN 74), it says such assertions stem from the fact that someone has become stuck in the idea that “this is my view” (‘‘Esā me diṭṭhī’’ti yā ṭhitibhūtā diṭṭhi, tāya ‘‘sabbaṃ me nakkhamatī’’ti panettha sabbaggahaṇena gahitattā āha).

The linguistically related term ṭhitibhāva has a more standard philosophical sense; it is a commentarial term for a phenomenon that, having arisen, is in the “state of persistence”, before dissolving.

None of these have anything to do with the phrase that Ajahn Mun is quoted as using, and nothing comparable to that phrase exists in the Pali texts. It doesn’t make any grammatical sense, it is just a word plonked at the beginning of a sentence.

My guess is that the phrase was originally a reference to the idea of dhammaṭṭhiti, the idea that impermanence, dependant origination, etc, are “natural principles” that apply whether or not a Buddha teaches about them. This does not mean that there is a real thing that is dhammaṭṭhiti from which everything arises, which of course is just eternalism. It means that, no matter what period of time one looks at, things are always changing, so they can always be described as impermanent.

The whole statement as found in the book of Ajahn Mun’s teachings is rather bizarre. Whether this is a genuine teaching of Ajahn Mun, or whether it was a confusion of whoever compiled the book—it was not written, but rather transcribed from recollections of his teachings—I could not say.