The Mind-Made Body and Dependent Origination?

DN2 and DN 10 explains the mind-made body is a power associated with deep samadhi, but as Bhante @sujato points out in another thread, “the mind-made body is not clearly defined in the early texts.”

My question, is dependent origination the “technology” that makes the mind-made body possible?

I imagine that as one develops insight a deeper understanding of dependent origination, sankhara allows one to shape their consciousness, name-and-form, etc., and in turn generate “another body, physical, mind-made, complete in all its various parts, not deficient in any faculty.”

But this is just my personal theory – I would be curious about any perspective that corroborates or counters this.


I’ve read this passage as simply discussing the development of kinesthetic sense of possibility. As a climber, I have to be able to completely visualize and sense the future position of my body to excruciating detail. For example, I understand that this toe has to touch that hold at this angle with so much pressure and the rest of the body has to be in such a position to the finest detail and the breath and heart need to be in such and such a state (e.g., exhaling here, inhaling there, beating fast here, beating slow there). It’s phenomenally detailed and it has evolved over many years to the point where I can forecast the exact sequence of future moves to which I will entrust my life climbing to a safe position. This is very real. Alex Honnold trusts his life to precisely this type of mind-made body. Alex would be dead if that mind-made body failed him.

Oddly, with the development of such a mind-made body, one becomes a bit detached from the tangible body since one can sense both. I.e., I am sitting on a ledge imagining my mind-made body climbing in the future. Both real and mind-made body provide sensory feedback. E.g., I will feel stressed here and relaxed there.

In other words, the ability to construct such a mind-made body has actually resulted in lesser identification with the tangible body. :thinking:

Whether this experience relates to the EBTs is debatable. However, it works for my own EBT understanding and is not really related to DO except it does help one understand DO a bit better.

The use of visualization has been very effective for top athletes. Here is a video describing how Adam Ondra trained to climb a very difficult climb.. You will notice that he trains his mind not just his body. For him to train his mind, he needs a mind-made body.


@karl_lew that’s an interesting perspective, and no doubt it is helpful in climbing and other physical performance.

I don’t think the suttas are limited to that context, however. As Bhikkhu Analayo writes, “celestial travels [via the mind-made body] by those adept in meditation has to be considered an integral part of early Buddhist thought, in as much as this has been preserved in textual records.”

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Indeed. And this was such a fascinating topic that I added mind-made body to the Voice examples so that others may investigate on their own.


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I always wondered about the skill set of climbers.
I do not have such a great experience but I had similar experience when I tried to learn my inline roller blade skating when i was in my 40’s.
Basically I was doing cross over in the sixth session without any instructors.
This was done by visualisation.
I understand mind made body is much more powerful but it gives us the glimpse of this phenomena.

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Ven Amathagavesi would ask his students to travel mentally to the next room and tell him what was there! I understood the insight-only retreat center which he resided st the time, was not amused as he taught them jhana :grin::man_shrugging:t5:.


It appears to me that mind-made body refers to Rupavacara Jhana.

Potthapada, there are these three acquisitions of a self: the gross acquisition of a self, the mind-made acquisition of a self, and the formless acquisition of a self. [9] And what is the gross acquisition of a self? Possessed of form, made up of the four great existents, feeding on physical food: this is the gross acquisition of a self. And what is the mind-made acquisition of a self? Possessed of form, mind-made, complete in all its parts, not inferior in its faculties: this is the mind-made acquisition of a self. And what is the formless acquisition of a self? Formless and made of perception: this is the formless acquisition of a self. … .than.html

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I wondered about arupa-jhana here, eg infinite consciousness, but on reflection I don’t think it’s relevant.

Hints at technique

by concentrating body in mind and mind in body the body becomes radiant and plastic. Like an iron ball heated throughout the day, or a tuft of cotton seed on a ball of thistledown, wafted lightly on the wind, so the body, at such time, rises from the ground into the air and takes on manifold forms of magic power (S.v.282-4).

Arupa doesn’t mean simply immaterial. It’s relates to a specific heightened state of samadhi, higher than the four jhanas.

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On a side note, people have observed themselves above their bodies (out of body experience) in hospitals and such like in near death situations or on hallucinogenic drugs. You can look up studies and journals about such events. I don’t think anyone will be able to objectively conclude if it is a hallucination or not, unless jhana masters want to be studied, and most hallucinogenic drug experiments are considered unethical in the scientific world.

Here’s an interesting study about NDE’s and a certain percentage of people feeling like they were facing persecution (judgement?) during an NDE: World's largest near death experiences study | University of Southampton

An interesting part of that article:

In this case, consciousness and awareness appeared to occur during a three-minute period when there was no heartbeat. This is paradoxical, since the brain typically ceases functioning within 20-30 seconds of the heart stopping and doesn’t resume again until the heart has been restarted. Furthermore, the detailed recollections of visual awareness in this case were consistent with verified events.

Jhana could be a controlled NDE :slight_smile:


“It appears to me that mind-made body refers to Rupavacara Jhana.”

@sarathw1 can you explain? I don’t see how that follows from what you’ve posted.

I think Bhikkhu Analayo says the mind-made body comes as a power after 4th jhana

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Fourth Jhana is Arupavacara.

Isn’t the human panca khandha situation a mind-made body already, just in a temporarily persistent gross material conglomeration?

If you have the experience of disassociating the cittasaṅkhāra from your present gross material conglomeration aren’t you simply extending the reach of your present khandhas? Potentially traveling to different worlds in different realms or peeking around Earth at the speed of thought.

Some people are fantastically proficient at this skill while few have ever even had a fleeting experience of it and the massively-vast majority never have it at all. Locked in an everyday continuum of normal human experiences.

Is DO a technology that allows it? Not really. It is simply a bending/manipulation of the khandhas which are the foundational parameters of all conventional experience with DO simply as a paper trail explanation. This seems to me to be an incidental curiosity the Buddha would’ve mostly ignored since it doesn’t really pertain to the practice towards liberation and it isn’t elaborate much in the suttas. It is really talked about casually as I recall.


Check DN 9 for three kinds of beings: solid, manomaya, and arupa. To make it clearer AN 5.100 gives an example of a manomaya deva:

“His body was two or three times the size of the fields of a Magadhan village, but he did not obstruct either himself or others with that body”.

This is the description of a non-solid ghost-like being, it can go through solid objects, yet still has a subtle appearance with a size etc., i.e. a rupa.

I don’t see any connection with dependent origination, unless you want to speculate.

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I thought the formless came after 4th jhana. Not sure how a mind-made body would pertain to:

Going totally beyond perceptions of form, with the ending of perceptions of impingement, not focusing on perceptions of diversity, aware that ‘space is infinite’, they enter and remain in the dimension of infinite space.

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Indeed, but only when you think of body in an anthropomorphic mindset.

Rūpa doesn’t have to be a gross materialization or an immediately identifiable cohesion. Closed eye nimitta are rūpa khandha, of course. “Kāya” is also used in the same way as “body” in English to refer to “a collection of things.” Double entendre potential here, I think.

The foremost of my monk disciples in creating a mind-made body is Cūḷapanthaka.
“Etadaggaṃ, bhikkhave, mama sāvakānaṃ bhikkhūnaṃ manomayaṃ kāyaṃ abhinimminantānaṃ yadidaṃ cūḷapanthako.
AN 1.198

I believe it is hard to actually quantify what a mind-made-body is and isn’t. Kinda like finding something in existence that isn’t technically naturally occurring. The reality that any activity a human being does is a natural occurrence in just the same way as any other being’s actions within the saṃsāra mind state.

Splitting hairs in incidental minutia maybe. Ambiguity is probably intentional. :upside_down_face:


Thanks for the AN1.198 quote. Here is Cūḷapanthaka flying about…

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I do think I remember Bhikkhu Bodhi talking about the mind-made-body in his on going Anguttara Nikāya sutta class series. Though I don’t remember what he might have said specifically about it. I would have to go through the BAUS YouTube channel playlist to find out.

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The fourth jhana is thought to be the ‘base of super power’. However there’s no guarantee of super powers upon reaching the fourth jhana; many people are mislead by running after them, falling away from the path to enlightenment like Devadatta.

That correct. The term ‘fine-material’ was used in the past. I don’t know if it’s accurate, though. There’s also a deva who was sinking through the ground, when he manifested himself and so the Buddha asked him to make his form grosser so he could stand, which suggests some interaction with material here on Earth.

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Thanks for the pointer to Devadatta. I’ve added Devadatta to the Voice examples. In researching Devadatta I finally understood this sutta:

Do you see Devadatta walking meditation together with several mendicants?”
“Yes, sir.”
“All of those mendicants have bad desires.
Sentient beings come together and converge because of an element.
Those who have a bad attitude come together and converge with those who have a bad attitude.

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