The life faculty(jīvitindriya) later Abhidhamma Teaching?

Besides that how would you see the life faculty?

To me it’s sound the replacement for soul. With better understanding that it’s just truly life energy. But then our karma etc are stuck to it like dependent-origination?

This sutta comes to mind, but the pali word for vitality here is: āyu

When a mendicant has attained the cessation of perception and feeling, their physical, verbal, and mental processes have ceased and stilled. But their vitality is not spent; their warmth is not dissipated; and their faculties are very clear.

I see it as biologically, the feedback loops to maintain the cells of the body still goes on to keep the body alive and warm.


Bhikkhu Bodhi said it’s not much in Nikayas

In the EBT’s, there are two similar terms:

The term jivitendriya, as far as I’m aware, was used by the Vaibhasika Sarvastivadins (i.e. those taking abhidharma as authoritative). This “vital faculty” was regarded as a “real but disjointed” phenomenon, not referring to any one thing. The jivitendriya is supported by breathing. And breathing, in turn, is the bodily process, or kaya-samskara, that was held as the fundamental support for living beings.

The Sautrantika Sarvastivadins (i.e. those taking sutras as authoritative over abhidharma), did not like the Vaibhasika doctrine of a jivitendriya and viewed it as wrong. Probably because it was not defined in the sutras.

Interestingly, metabolism is affected by and reliant upon breathing. It would not be an exaggeration to say that breathing provides the “fundamental support” for the metabolic process. So maybe the idea of a jivitendriya is compatible with modern science if we take that interpretation.

The Sarvastivadins were kind of like scientists, and they would probably be happy to know people are still investigating and talking about these things.

Chan Yiu-wing goes over the term jivitendriya in his translation of the Dharmatrata Dhyana Sutra, i.e. the Yogacarabhumi of Buddhasena of Kashmir. (


Thank you very much.

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