Can Brahma read the Buddha's mind?

From MN85
“And as I reflected like this, my mind inclined to remaining passive, not to teaching the Dhamma.
Then Brahmā Sahampati, knowing what I was thinking, thought, ‘Oh my goodness! The world will be lost, the world will perish! For the mind of the Realized One, the perfected one, the fully awakened Buddha, inclines to remaining passive, not to teaching the Dhamma.’”

Does this mean that the Buddha’s mind can be read by Brahma? I cant remember the Sutta, but weren’t their other suttas that directly contradicts the ability of anyone to read the Buddha’s mind?


Mara also reads the Buddha’s mind in SN4.20

Atha kho māro pāpimā bhagavato cetasā cetoparivitakkamaññāya yena bhagavā tenupasaṅkami.
And then Māra the Wicked, knowing what the Buddha was thinking, went up to him.

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It seemed it was believed that the spirits have that ability. Because that’s how they Cummunicate. Not by voice like us. Just listening to each other mind.

You can experience it in dream. Where you don’t hear the discussion going on. But you can feel what it was about in your mind.

An ability to know the contents of another being’s mind is relative. The DN 28 may help answer your question.

In other words to read mind so deep and so many people.

Then the Venerable Mahāmoggallāna fixed his attention on the entire Saṅgha of bhikkhus, encompassing their minds with his own mind. He then saw that person sitting in the midst of the Saṅgha of bhikkhus: one who was immoral, of bad character, impure, of suspect behavior, secretive in his actions, not an ascetic though claiming to be one, not a celibate though claiming to be one, inwardly rotten, corrupt, depraved.

In this story a disciple looked for the impure monk without the help of Buddha

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While the scriptures say that the Brahma could read Buddha’s mind and asked the Buddha to teach, I wonder how much truth is in that story. Is it what really happened or is it a legend? Who knows?

The story of the Brahma reading the Buddha’s mind is also in the MN26 and in Vinayapitaka, Mahākhandaka Vagga 5.

I think you’re referring to the unconjecturables:

“Mendicants, these four things are unthinkable. They should not be thought about, and anyone who tries to think about them will go mad or get frustrated. 1.2What four?

1.3The scope of the Buddhas … 1.4

key term visaya:

  1. locality, spot, region; world, realm, province, neighbourhood Snp.977. Often in foll. combinations: petti˚; (or pitti˚) and pettika
  2. the world of the manes or petas MN.i.73; SN.iii.224; SN.v.342 SN.v.356 sq.; AN.i.37, AN.i.267; AN.ii.126 sq.; AN.iii.211, AN.iii.339, AN.iii.414 sq. AN.iv.405 sq.; AN.v.182 sq.; Pv.ii.2#2; Pv.ii.7#9; Ja.i.51; Pv-a.25 sq. Pv-a.59 sq. Pv-a.214.
  3. the way of the fathers, native or proper beat or range DN.iii.58; SN.v.146 sq.; AN.iii.67; Ja.ii.59 Yama˚; the realm of Yama or the Dead Pv.ii.8#2 (= petaloka Pv-a.107).
  4. reach, sphere (of the senses) range, scope; object, characteristic, attribute (cp. Cpd. 143 n. 2) SN.v.218 (gocara˚); Ne.23 (iddhi˚); Mil.186 Mil.215, Mil.316; Vism.216 (visayī-bhūta), Vism.570 = Vb-a.182 (mahā˚ & appa˚); Kp-a.17; Snp-a.22, Snp-a.154 (buddha˚), Snp-a.228 (id.); Pv-a.72, Pv-a.89
    avisaya not forming an object a wrong object, indefinable AN.v.50; Ja.v.117 (so read for ˚ara); Pv-a.122, Pv-a.197.
  5. object of sense, sensual pleasure Snp-a.100.

Yes, thanks. While the scripture says that Brahma and Buddha can read each others minds, I don’t really know, and so can’t say more about it.

But I have found the original question and quotation by

and the following series of responses interesting and helpful for contemplation - thank you.

A simple understanding presents itself here:

DN34:1.7.87: They understand the minds of other beings and individuals, having comprehended them with their own mind.

This is how we all know a bit about others’ minds–the minds are similarly inclined.