Bhava - Abhidhamma Paṭiccasamuppāda Vibhaṅga

Dear forum

I read the following text in the Abhidhamma Vibhanga:

Tattha katamo upādānapaccayā bhavo? Ṭhapetvā upādānaṁ, vedanākkhandho saññākkhandho saṅkhārakkhandho viññāṇakkhandho— ayaṁ vuccati “upādānapaccayā bhavo”. SuttaCentral

Therein what is “because of attachment there is becoming”? With the exception of attachment (it is) the aggregate of feeling, | aggregate of perception, aggregate of mental concomitants, aggregate of consciousness. This is called “because of attachment there is becoming”. SuttaCentral

Herein, what is ‘with attachment as condition: continuation?’ Except for attachment, (it is) the feeling constituent, the perception constituent, the (volitional) processes constituent, the consciousness constituent: this is said to be ‘with attachment as condition: continuation’. SuttaCentral

The definition above is different from the Suttas. In the Suttas, bhava is sensual bhava, material bhava and immaterial bhava.

My questions are:

  1. Why are the four mental aggregates the definition of bhava in the Abhidhamma Vibhanga and what is the meaning of this?

  2. How do the four mental aggregates explain bhava?

Thank you :slight_smile:

  1. The four mental attachments are indivisible (MN 43). 2. Mental states precede body, and also condition the plane of arising. This applies equally to death and rebirth as well as any mind state during life, that is mind accesses the 31 planes of existence.

“Yet it is just within this fathom-long body, with its perception & intellect, that I declare that there is the cosmos, the origination of the cosmos, the cessation of the cosmos, and the path of practice leading to the cessation of the cosmos.”—AN 4.45

Thank you Paul. My impression is MN 43 says consciousness, feeling & perception are indivisible; but not mental formations.

  1. Why are the four mental aggregates the definition of bhava in the Abhidhamma Vibhanga and what is the meaning of this?
    I do not study Abhidhamma, so I cannot answer this.

  2. How do the four mental aggregates explain bhava?

The four mental aggregates define which bhavo the being leans to (or the state of the being). To my understanding, The aggregation of all feelings, perceptions, volitional formations, consciousness that we are accumulated defines the state of the being and where that being fits to.

In our life, if we accumulated many evil feelings, evil perceptions, evil volitional formations… then the aggregation of those leans to lower level of kamabhavo (or we can say it is in lower kama state of being)

If we accumulated wholesome feelings, wholesome perceptions, wholesome volitional formations, wholesome consciousness but still cling to sensuality then it will lean to upper level of kamabhavo.

If we accumulated wholesome feelings, wholesome perceptions, wholesome volitional formations, wholesome consciousness and do not cling to sensuality, but still cling to form then it will lean to rupabhavo.

If we accumulated wholesome feelings, wholesome perceptions, wholesome volitional formations, wholesome consciousness and do not cling to sensuality, and do not cling to form, but still cling to a self then it will lean to arupabhavo.

That’s how I understand.

Thank you Freedom. I cannot disagree with what you wrote however it is extremely generalized and appears unnecessary. In other words, without reference to the Suttas, the Abidhamma definition seems to be explaining basically nothing about what ‘bhava’ is. I personally cannot discern any purpose in the Abhidhamma definition. :face_with_spiral_eyes:

It is not explicit in the Suttas. However, if you take a look MN28 you will see how the five aggregates are accumulated.

The material form in what has thus come to be is included in the material form aggregate affected by clinging. The feeling in what has thus come to be is included in the feeling aggregate affected by clinging. The perception in what has thus come to be is included in the perception aggregate affected by clinging. The formations in what has thus come to be are included in the formations aggregate affected by clinging. The consciousness in what has thus come to be is included in the consciousness aggregate affected by clinging. He understands thus: ‘This, indeed, is how there comes to be the inclusion, gathering, and amassing of things into these five aggregates affected by clinging. Now this has been said by the Blessed One: “One who sees dependent origination sees the Dhamma; one who sees the Dhamma sees dependent origination.” And these five aggregates affected by clinging are dependently arisen. MN28

Sure. But MN 28 seems to be about clinging (upadana) rather than bhava. MN 149 has a similar paragraph, probably more explicit:

When one abides inflamed by lust, fettered, infatuated, contemplating gratification (assādānupassino), then the five aggregates affected by clinging are built up for oneself in the future; and one’s craving—which brings renewal of being (bhava), is accompanied by delight and lust, and delights in this and that—increases. One’s bodily and mental troubles increase, one’s bodily and mental torments increase, one’s bodily and mental fevers increase, and one experiences bodily and mental suffering.

MN 149

You can see that it said the feeling, perception,… in what has come to be is included in the feeing, perception…aggregate. This is the accumulation that will determine bhava. (Where can we put this sum of them in DO?). However, this is just my own understanding.

Yes, I think this is better to see.

Sujato MN 28:

‘So this is how there comes to be inclusion, gathering together and joining together into these five grasping aggregates.

‘evañhi kira imesaṁ pañcannaṁ upādānakkhandhānaṁ saṅgaho sannipāto samavāyo hoti.

saṅgaha
masculine

  1. treatment;
  2. compilation; collection

sannipāta
masculine

  1. assemblage; congregation; union of the humors of the body

samavāya
masculine

  1. combination; coming together

Sujato MN 149:

Someone who lives aroused like this—fettered, confused, concentrating on gratificationaccumulates the five grasping aggregates for themselves in the future.

Tassa sārattassa saṁyuttassa sammūḷhassa assādānupassino viharato āyatiṁ pañcupādānakkhandhā upacayaṁ gacchanti.

New Concise Pali English Dictionary

upacaya
masculine

  1. accumulation, quantity, heap; growth, increase

‘Boil’ is a term for this body made up of the four primary elements, produced by mother and father, built up from rice and porridge, liable to impermanence, to wearing away and erosion, to breaking up and destruction.

Gaṇḍoti kho, bhikkhave, imassetaṁ cātumahābhūtikassa kāyassa adhivacanaṁ mātāpettikasambhavassa odanakummāsūpacayassa aniccucchādanaparimaddanabhedanaviddhaṁsanadhammassa.

SuttaCentral

The paragraphs above seem very general. Where as Dependent Originations seems very detailed. Imo, the above paragraphs are too general or broad to explain one single condition of Dependent Origination.

For example, the term “concentrating on gratification (assādānupassino)” is found in many places, such as:

“There are things that are prone to being grasped. When you concentrate on the gratification provided by these things, your craving grows.

“Upādāniyesu, bhikkhave, dhammesu assādānupassino viharato taṇhā pavaḍḍhati.

Craving is a condition for grasping.

Taṇhāpaccayā upādānaṁ;

Grasping is a condition for continued existence.

upādānapaccayā bhavo;

Continued existence is a condition for rebirth.

bhavapaccayā jāti;

Rebirth is a condition for old age and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress to come to be.

jātipaccayā jarāmaraṇaṁ sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsā sambhavanti.

That is how this entire mass of suffering originates.

Evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa samudayo hoti.

SuttaCentral Upādāna Sutta

The above sutta is called the Upādāna Sutta. It seems the above suttas are mostly about upadana rather than bhava.

‘Bhava’ seems to not mean the “joining together into these five grasping aggregates” but seems to refer to consciousness “established” (“patiṭṭhitaṁ”) in a certain state of existence or being.

“Sir, they speak of this thing called ‘continued existence’.

“bhavo, bhavoti, bhante, vuccati.

How is continued existence defined?”

Kittāvatā nu kho, bhante, bhavo hotī”ti?

“If, Ānanda, there were no deeds to result in the sensual realm, would continued existence in the sensual realm still come about?”

“Kāmadhātuvepakkañca, ānanda, kammaṁ nābhavissa, api nu kho kāmabhavo paññāyethā”ti?

“No, sir.”

“No hetaṁ, bhante”.

“So, Ānanda, deeds are the field, consciousness is the seed, and craving is the moisture.

“Iti kho, ānanda, kammaṁ khettaṁ, viññāṇaṁ bījaṁ, taṇhā sneho.

The consciousness of sentient beings—hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving—is established in a lower realm. That’s how there is rebirth into a new state of existence in the future.

Avijjānīvaraṇānaṁ sattānaṁ taṇhāsaṁyojanānaṁ hīnāya dhātuyā viññāṇaṁ patiṭṭhitaṁ evaṁ āyatiṁ punabbhavābhinibbatti hoti.

If there were no deeds to result in the realm of luminous form, would continued existence in the realm of luminous form still come about?”

Rūpadhātuvepakkañca, ānanda, kammaṁ nābhavissa, api nu kho rūpabhavo paññāyethā”ti?

“No, sir.”

“No hetaṁ, bhante”.

“So, Ānanda, deeds are the field, consciousness is the seed, and craving is the moisture.“

Iti kho, ānanda, kammaṁ khettaṁ, viññāṇaṁ bījaṁ, taṇhā sneho.

The consciousness of sentient beings—hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving—is established in a middle realm. That’s how there is rebirth into a new state of existence in the future.

Avijjānīvaraṇānaṁ sattānaṁ taṇhāsaṁyojanānaṁ majjhimāya dhātuyā viññāṇaṁ patiṭṭhitaṁ evaṁ āyatiṁ punabbhavābhinibbatti hoti.

If there were no deeds to result in the formless realm, would continued existence in the formless realm still come about?”

Arūpadhātuvepakkañca, ānanda, kammaṁ nābhavissa, api nu kho arūpabhavo paññāyethā”ti?

“No, sir.”

“No hetaṁ, bhante”.

“So, Ānanda, deeds are the field, consciousness is the seed, and craving is the moisture.

“Iti kho, ānanda, kammaṁ khettaṁ, viññāṇaṁ bījaṁ, taṇhā sneho.

The consciousness of sentient beings—hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving—is established in a higher realm. That’s how there is rebirth into a new state of existence in the future.

Avijjānīvaraṇānaṁ sattānaṁ taṇhāsaṁyojanānaṁ paṇītāya dhātuyā viññāṇaṁ patiṭṭhitaṁ evaṁ āyatiṁ punabbhavābhinibbatti hoti.

That’s how continued existence is defined.”

Evaṁ kho, ānanda, bhavo hotī”ti.

SuttaCentral

abhinibbatti
feminine

  1. production; becoming; birth, rebirth

In this sutta, as I see the deeds are the actions (body, speech, mind) that we performed (wholesome, unwholesome). In DO, we can see it in volitional formations (sankhara). With volitional formations as condition, consciousness. We are conscious of what we are after. With consciousness as condition, name-and-form. Here, we can find perception and initial feeling, then we will have feeling. However, without craving, we will not reach bhava.

By ignorance we will reach craving and clinging and then bhava. Here, feeling, perception, volitional formations, consciousness of this experience will modify bhava and make it into a new state of being (or new mind.)

Since feeling, perception, volitional formations, consciousness are conjoined. We cannot separate them. They are what we called “mind” or “consciousness” (We cannot have consciousness without feeling, perception…)

When we say consciousness is established in a lower realm, I think it is the same if we say the mind is established in a lower realm. And that mind is nothing different than bhava which is the sum of all feelings, perceptions, volitional formations, consciousnesses.

It seems only feeling, perception& consciousness are conjoined per MN 43.

My impression is the sutta (AN 3.76) is saying consciousness is “established” (“patiṭṭhita”) in one primary way in one primary type of object. Therefore, the bhava is either sensual, material or immaterial because consciousness, for example, is established in a sensual object in a sensual way with sensual craving and sensual attachment. Therefore it is called “sensual becoming/existence”.

Of course or naturally, this consciousness of sensuality will include feelings, perceptions & mental formations related to sensuality. However, in the Suttas, the types of bhava are called sensual, material & immaterial bhava.

Despite your generous attempts to answer my question, I still think the Abhidhamma teaching is not explaining anything compelling/specific to me; yet. :slight_smile:

Volitional formations in DO is sankhara. It has 3 components that perform the action (body, speech, mind). However, I think the volitional formation that is accumulated in bhava is the mind component. The other 2 may affect this mind components and other DO components. MN43 may not include volitional formation in general because of the 2 components (body and speech).

What we called mind in the five aggregates is feeling, perception, volitional formation, consciousness. Because mind is mental, so I think volitional formations here may not refer to body action and speech.

I am not sure how can we separate perception or consciousness from mental action or thought?

However, that is what I can think of, and it is also simply my own view for now. I think you may find more interesting stuffs if you investigate deeper into this.

DO seems to be about things arising from ignorance. MN 43 is about how wisdom & consciousness are conjoined.

It does seem a bit random. And why not the full set of five aggregates?

Good question. We did not talk about form because we are talking about what Abhidhamma is saying. Moreover, we focus on the mind aspect of bhava that determines its state of being.

I think the accumulation of forms is also part of bhava. In my DO example in another topic, I did included forms in bhava. However, I am not quite sure what is the best way to explain it. How does that accumulated forms affect the state of being?

I think those forms contribute to the leaning of the being to a bhavo. However, since I am not very sure how I should understand this, I cannot talk too much about it . Maybe some other people will have better explanation than me.

By the way, all of these are just my own understanding. It may not be all accurate. If you can find anything wrong with it, please point them out so I can correct my view.

Thank you for your efforts Freedom. I finally browsed most of the Paṭiccasamuppāda Vibhaṅga. It is very different to the Suttas. As you suggested, it seems mostly about dhammas arising via the mind-base. “Jati” is the birth of “dhammas”. It has a number of variations of Dependent Origination, where sometimes craving & attachment are replaced by faith (pasāda) and by decision (adhimokkha) and even includes a scenario when feeling is the condition for bhava (therefore omitting craving, attachment, faith and decision). It even has supramundane (lokuttara dependent origination) based on supramundane jhana. The birth (jati) & death (marana) conditions are defined differently to the suttas. “Jati” is the birth of “dhammas”. “Death” seems to be “impermanence” (“aniccatā”) it seems. Its seems the Abhidhamma writers were very imaginative.
:dizzy: :boom:

Having done, having developed that same good supramundane jhāna, he, aloof from sense pleasures, attains and dwells in resultant first jhāna that is hard practice, knowledge slowly acquired and is empty; at that time because of good roots there is activity; because of activity there is consciousness; because of consciousness there is mind; because of mind there is the sixth base; because of the sixth base there is contact; because of contact there is feeling; because of feeling there is faith; because of faith there is decision; because of decision there is becoming; because of becoming there is birth; because of birth there is ageing and death. Thus is the arising of these states.

Tasseva lokuttarassa kusalassa jhānassa katattā bhāvitattā vipākaṁ vivicceva kāmehi …pe… paṭhamaṁ jhānaṁ upasampajja viharati dukkhapaṭipadaṁ dandhābhiññaṁ suññataṁ, tasmiṁ samaye kusalamūlapaccayā saṅkhāro, saṅkhārapaccayā viññāṇaṁ, viññāṇapaccayā nāmaṁ, nāmapaccayā chaṭṭhāyatanaṁ, chaṭṭhāyatanapaccayā phasso, phassapaccayā vedanā, vedanāpaccayā pasādo, pasādapaccayā adhimokkho, adhimokkhapaccayā bhavo, bhavapaccayā jāti, jātipaccayā jarāmaraṇaṁ. Evametesaṁ dhammānaṁ samudayo hoti.

Example

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Jati as the birth of dhammas is an interesting take, though I struggle to see his this relates to the “definition” of jati in SN12.2.
It seems like the Abhidhamma redefines a lot sutta concepts, rather than just elaborating them. Rather confusing.

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