The Mind-Made Body (manomayakaya)

Hi All,
During studying “Samaññaphala Sutta” I come across term The Mind-Made Body. Could someone explain in simple words what it is mean from early Buddhism point of view?

With Metta


Hello @Gosia,

I was quite interested by this myself, but never dug into it.

I just found the following now:

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[quote=“Gosia, post:1, topic:4569, full:true”]
Hi All,
During studying “Samaññaphala Sutta” I come across term The Mind-Made Body. [/quote]I have heard the term used by Buddhists in general before to refer to a mentally visualized body used in certain meditative practices, but always in a Maháyána context, or a Tibetan one. It is very interesting to see it here, thank you for pointing it out. [quote=Gosia]Could someone explain in simple words what it is mean from early Buddhism point of view?[/quote]I am also very interested in this POV and if this mind-made-body refers to any meditative practice at all in EBT-literature.

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in the biography of Dipa Ma, it interviews students of her who witnessed her walking on water, diving into the earth and emerging “wet”, sky walking by turning air element into earth element to support her weight, sky walking at tree height as I recall.

And she would also go to meditation interviews with her teacher by walking through the walls or the door. That’s with her rupa 4-elements body.

There’s the part where it says when she walked alone at night in INdia, she would walk with a mind created human (of herself I believe) as a companion to discourage thugs.

A skeptical professor arranged a test where dipa ma simultaneously (with a mind created body) appeared simultaneously in two places at the same time. One place with her teacher, the other with the skeptical professor.


I think it is similar to astral projection:

With metta


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Opinion varies but I think this refers to Rupavacara Jhana and the Devas living in those worlds.
I may be wrong.


The mind-made body is not clearly defined in the early texts. However, it refers to something similar to what in Western esoteric traditions is called the “astral body” or “subtle body” (sukhumarūpa).

It’s a mental image that corresponds with the physical body. However, in the Buddhist sense, it is part of rūpa, i.e. the physical realm, even though it is created by and perceived by the mind. This is because it has physical properties like shape, position, color, etc. It takes on the same physical shape and attributes as the coarse material (oḷārika) body.

The idea is, I think, that the mind-made body is the felt or perceived body, i.e. the physical body as experienced internally. Normally we have an inner map or idea of the body which matches the externally perceived body quite well; but this is not always the case. Consider the well known phenomenon of phantom limbs. For an amputee, the phantom limb they can experience would be their mind-made body, which doesn’t completely correspond with the coarse body.

For advanced meditators, in certain cases it becomes possible to detach these two bodies much more radically, enabling the phenomena of astral projection and the like.


Hi All :slight_smile:

Thank you all for help. Now it is much clearer for me how to understand mind-made body term.

with Metta


After reading this thread last night I had this contemplation of manomaya kaya. Mindmade body can be in gross physical and subtle astral form and may be conditioned by various degrees of ignorance, clinging and grasping to form and formless. I was also wondering about enlightened astral or golden white light body (free from entrenched ignorance, defilements and unskillful actions) that transcends ordinary physical death. Wondering now how all these relate to Mahayana-Vajrayana ideas of Sambhogakaya and Rainbow body…?

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Hi Bhante Sujato,

I happened to read the Nirodha Sutta An5.166, and wanted to know your opinion whether the host of mind-made Devas are the Devas in the Pure Abodes. I think the pure abodes are a brahmaloka with a Brahma body (ie. like Brahama Sahampati who invited the Buddha to teach). Any thoughts on this will be greatly appreciated.



In advaita, the kāya/śarīra (body) is made up of 5 kośas -

1.the anna-maya kośa - or the body made of or by food or the coarsest (sthūla) aspect of the body i.e. it is the kośa that is most perceptible to the physical senses. This is what most people identify with the ātman (i.e. with themselves) i.e. they say “I am this physical body, made of the various physical organs”. But advaita this is considered anātman.

  1. the prāṇa-maya kośa - or the breathing body. This is a little bit more subtle (sūkṣma) but still easily perceptible aspect of the body. Of those who understand the annamaya kāya/kośa to be anātman, some consider the breath to signify ātman and they identify the breathing body to be the ātman (i.e. themselves). But in advaita this too is considered anātman.

  2. the mano-maya kośa - or the feeling body. This is an even more subtle aspect than the breathing body, and perceptible with some intuition. Among those who understand even the breathing body to be anātman, some consider the feeling aspect to denote ātmatva and therefore as signifying themselves (the ātman). But advaita considers this too as anātman.

  3. vijñāna-maya kośa - even more subtle than the manas (mind) is vijñāna or the rational intellectual aspect that reasons and discerns. Among those who understand the manomaya to be anātman, some take the vijñāna faculty to be synonymous with or denoting the ātman. Advaita considers this too as anātman

  4. ānandamaya - the most subtle of the 5 kośas is the aspect of bliss, and is the least comprehensible/cognizable of the five to most people. There are some spiritually advanced people who are capable of understanding the anātmatva of even the vijñāna-maya but confuse the ānanda-maya with ātman. But adavita says this too is anātman.

The self (ātman) is beyond all sensory or personal cognition in advaita.

The concept of the manomaya kāya may perhaps have meant something similar in the pali canon, but not in all contexts in which the word appears.


I consider Astral Projections & OBE’s to be 2 different things …. so whilst I don’t share the opinion of the author on the interpretation of the Buddha’s 2 diff ‘modes of transport’ ( if you will) … it is literally the first time I have read of anyone anywhere making a distinction.

I need to go ponder a potential connection to a 3rd type of ( unmentioned here) phenomena … but that’s awesome. Thank you Sukha for posting that essay.

I might end up a Buddhist yet if I keep having ‘oh hello’ moments lol :sunglasses:

Thank you for that explanation Bhante. Jumping in 8 or so years later. This is the closest to explaining something I learned about decades ago. Is it possible that this mind-made body can be sneaked away by non-human beings? Serious question. And that light is a protection from this happening?

Here is an article on this topic

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