The nature of in-between lives

When a being dies and before being reborn, it is sustained by craving. Basically this is the main guide to speculate on what is this in-between lives.

If it is not one of the 5 aggregates, then the classical Theravada people would scream that it’s a soul, wrong view.

If it is the 5 aggregates, we must have consciousness as a minimum, then all the mind aggregates are in, then since it’s not formless realm, there will be mind made body at least.

Then the classical Theravada people will say: that’s just rebirth, normal rebirth, immediate rebirth.

So which is it? What do you think?

I have a lot more which I haven’t got the time now to write, but just kickstarting this off now. Below is briefly what I can expand upon.

  1. Speed of light to reconcile.
  2. Mind-made body is in-between life.
  3. Bardo.
  4. Speculating what is beyond the 5 aggregates, is anything beyond the 5 aggregates?
  5. Other sutta citations on in-between life.
  6. Could believing in in-between life causes rebirth in peta realm (for people mistaking peta realm as in-between life)?
  7. Parapsychology evidences or stories of in-between lives.

I’ve always enjoyed the beginning of pudgalavādin arguments, but they quickly get off the rails and start defining an atta again.

This seems to come from Snp3.11.

DN28 seems to a hint:

Furthermore, some ascetic or brahmin attains that and goes beyond it. They understand of a person that their stream of consciousness is consistent on both sides: established in both this world and the next. This is the third attainment of vision.

Furthermore, some ascetic or brahmin attains that and goes beyond it. They understand of a person that their stream of consciousness is consistent on both sides: not established in either this world or the next. This is the fourth attainment of vision.

The way I understand it (perhaps not limited to suttas but in general):

  1. As above, so below. Just as we need to sleep, so do we need to die.
    1.1. Attention is difficult to sustain uninterrupted. Death is a function of inability to keep our attention applied for a long time.
    1.2. Just as six inner sense base ceases contact in sleep, so do they cease in between death.
    1.3. Craving creates the specifics of the rebirth. We choose whatever form of existence feels pleasurable. Basically we’re always searching for ways to cheat the conditions for a permanent happiness. This would explain an impersonal law of kamma, where there’s no higher being dictating where we go depending on our actions; it’s just our imagination reflected back at us.
    1.4. In-between realms could thus be explained as a period where you’re (the stream of aggregates) neither here anymore but there yet either. Some people might not even experience it lucidly; others might experience it briefly; same with remembering.

I think Aggregates are a template, and not necessarily the be-all end-all. Same with Six-Sense bases. There might be modes of existence with 9 sense bases, some with 2. The important thing is even if there are appearances of different modes of aggregates that we couldn’t imagine right now; we can still kinda imagine them on the basis of their functions. Sense base needs an inner organ, a contact media, and a relevant consciousness. There can be a myriad of commentary on these sense bases with weirder aggregates we wouldn’t imagine right now. But they’re basically the same thing, and any appearance of diversity is already illusory to begin with. There’s only suffering and suffering media, in myriad forms and modes.

The all is defined with respect to the 6 sense bases.

If there’s additional “base”, it’s mostly mapped to body. Seeing infrared is eye, ultrasound is ear etc. Supernormal perception like divine eye is mind.

The 5 aggregates as far as I remember doesn’t have the same coverage of the all.

I touched on this. I refer to an abstraction of this concept - even for example, sense of smell is linked to sense of touch, likewise sense of sound. Even if a being tried to define their 19 sense bases, they would all be the same 6 sense field, or same 1 sense field.

It’s stated directly here:

“But when a flame is blown away by the wind, what does Mister Gotama say is its fuel then?”
“At such a time, I say that it’s fueled by wind.
For the wind is its fuel then.”
“But when someone who is attached has laid down this body and has not been reborn in one of the realms, what does Mister Gotama say is their fuel then?”
“When someone who is attached has laid down this body, Vaccha, and has not been reborn in one of the realms, I say they’re fueled by craving. For craving is their fuel then.”
SN 44.9

It seems this question and those of a similar vein should be met with the same response the Teacher gave Anuradha in SN 22.86. :pray:

Desire is the cause of all suffering.

We have clearly seen how other people’s desires have been the cause of our own suffering in some cases too.

But is it possible to take on the results of the desires/or karma of other people onto ourselves? For example there is the kind example of Jesus Christ who died for the redemption of His followers, from them bearing the burden of their own karma. He created His own type of balance to save others, sacrificing Himself. There was great honor in that.

In the same way maybe there is something more besides desire/craving that can take some from life to life, as we have seen great personages still reborn, and even not purified, they are not reborn as a mere basket of desires. The good remains too. And cultivating that good, we can also find a purpose for living life and maybe who we truly are.

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For it is by oneself that evil’s done,
one is corrupted by oneself.
It’s by oneself that evil’s not done,
one is purified by oneself.
Purity and impurity are personal matters,
no one can purify another.

Never neglect your own good
for the sake of another, however great.
Knowing well what’s good for you,
be intent upon your true goal.

DHP 165

I think we appreciate martyrs for their service to us; but is that really compassionate to them? Why do we need others to suffer for us? Why do we need their sacrifice? Can we imagine a peace where no one sacrifices their own safety for another, their well being for another? Is our salvation either-or ?

What if ironically, our desire to help others created the illusion of there being suffering beings? When would that mirage end?

The key word here is “craving”. Where there is craving, all other links should also be there. That is what dependent origination teaches. So look no further, it is life.

It is not wrong view Bhante, but I think it is prejudice on your part.
I do not identify myself as any “vadin”, but this is plain simple.
With Metta

I think you and @Dharma are going to end up talking past each other unless you first figure out if there is a distinction to be made between:

  1. Selfish desire
  2. Altruistic wish

And more importanty if the second is a defilement that needs to be purified. Is it the case that suffering arises dependent upon #2 or is it not the case?

I suspect, based on some familiarity and discussion with you both, that for you @Dogen, if there is such a distinction, it is still the case that #2 either leads to dukkha arising or is itself dukkha whereas I suspect this isn’t the interpretation of @Dharma.

I’m of the interpretation that there is a distinction and that #2 cannot possibly lead to dukkha arising nor is the altruistic wish dukkha itself; to see why you just have to ask where is the “I”, “me”, “mine” in the altruistic wish? Without the “I”, “me”, “mine” how can you maintain that dukkha will still arise?


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I think this is a problematic dichotomy, relying on a false-duality:

Because to differentiate “Helping others” and “Helping myself” depends on the conceit that “I” and “Others” exist and are separate and such distinctions are true. The great sage shows the way without such distinctions, to realise the end of all formations and activities.

With all due respect, but I just share here because I feel safe here to indulge in our philosophies without judgment: Dreams of altruism is Mara’s way of keeping us in saṁsara, I believe. There will never be an end to suffering and never either an end of kindness to combat it. There will always be others suffering and others helping them. Why should we be eternally burdened by it?

What if our greatest service is showing others to distance from this whole mess of suffering? Isn’t that the ultimate sacrifice and protection, what Buddha did with his parinibbāna?

Before our death, we should be as helpful as possible, sure, that is to be praised. But upon death, there is the taste of ending of five aggregates, six sense base concerning the sage, which he so compassionately showed us as to set an example. :slight_smile:

If somebody still wants to enter saṁsara to help others, sure. If you ask my opinion, my compassion urges me that this is still suffering, but you’ll only have to see for yourself, and I can not possibly know it for you. I can only speak for myself and the example of Sage’s extinguishment, talking about extinction of five aggregates, six sense base, peace. :slight_smile:


I think it’s just categorically wrong - because you have to use the word “others” to begin with. This distinction can’t be helped to crease a sense of self.

There’s suffering and cessation of suffering. Either there’s cessation of suffering or not. “I” and “Others” are irrelevant pointers for such perspective.

Thanks to Green I’ve got an easy access to some pointers. Six-sense fields end without remainder (An4.174), as do aggregates (Ud8.9), when a worthy one passes away. This is all, and the end of all (SN35.23). There’s no more measure of language applicable for them afterwards (Ud8.10, Snp5.7).

Was the great sage selfish when he let all these extinguish without remainder, when he could’ve come again and again to teach Dhamma? Or is it the case that Bodhisattas are inexhaustible, and there’s no reason to assume a place of martyrdom; perhaps true faith dictates as such, this trust in “others” that everything will be alright, even without our interference (and indeed, perhaps thanks to us not interfering at all!).

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Are you willing to suffer for the one you Love? Buddha did for many lifetimes in order to Awaken. Why did He leave His home in the palace of the Shakyas?

I think the nature of Buddhahood Transcends the nature of Emptiness. In Buddhahood we find there is Great Love with Great Awakening. Finding and maintaining this Love, is the key to Enlightenment and Nibbana, and the Slipstream of Empathy. I think the Buddha is Love. The Dhamma is Love. Does Love truly exist? Perhaps since it’s the only thing we feel so deeply, it is the root of all good things that are really are here, moving past Emptiness into Buddhahood, neither “here” nor “there” we can find Love and something greater than Love in the Buddha, who will always be there for you Forever.

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Maybe this phenomenal and nomenal world is here because of the Bodhisattas and Buddhas giving it a chance, treating it with Compassion, seeing the possibility of tranquil extinction in all phenomena. That is the basis for Emptiness. But with no Self, it is Transcendental to grasping or conceit.

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Purity and impurity are personal matters,
no one can purify another.

So spoke the great sage. He just reached the end of suffering. Whether “others” found inspiration from his example or not, that’s all up to their kamma. Sage didn’t purify anyone. :smiley:

You mean leaving his father, his wife, his son which he called “Fetter” with “Rahula”, all his responsibilities, to reach the end of his suffering? :smiley:

I think Love is unshackling; getting unshackled and being unshackled are two different things. Love depends on suffering, distance and ignorance to arise. Love removes those things, and in their absence, so does dissipate love. There’s perhaps a greater stillness and peace than what Love should imply. This is how I see it. :slight_smile:

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True Love is the Nibbana you will receive. It transcends the material. The reason we feel Love with such pain in naturality is because we are instantly faced with the uncessated material aspect too. Real Love doesn’t lie. Real Love will come along with the unextinguished so you can become extinguished. Because real Love is extinguishment.

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Nor did I suggest that he purified anyone. All I said was that he helped others and did so without any sense of “I” or “me” or “mine.” It would seem we agree on this now. Well, helping others without any sense of the three is how I define the “altruistic wish” and it cannot be said either that it is dukkha nor that it gives rise to dukkha. :pray:


How do you define this without an I? :slight_smile:

The Teacher referred to others and he also used a personal pronoun. I thought you were okay with using conventional speech, no?

Are you back to claiming the Teacher still had a sense of “I”, “me”, “mine” when he helped others? Or are you claiming that he didn’t help others? :pray:

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As the Brahma’s request shows me, I think teacher was uninclined to teach, but others came and begged to him. It simply could be the case that teaching others is less of an annoyance than it is to ignore their requests. It would be far easier for him to explain than to remain silent in some cases. Who knows?

I don’t necessarily equate his ministry with selflessness. Ironically enough, if you think it’s an altruistic sacrifice, it stands to reason it’s a more tiresome action than otherwise, than just withdrawing completely from the world.

I don’t think that’s the case, though. He was just taking care of himself, as he was, as he should be. The best way to go about it was to give voice to Dhamma.

And even his ministry is little importance to me for the sake of this conversation - but whether he came back again and again in an altruistic sacrifice. He explains, five aggregates, six sense fields, all has ceased. Now he’s indescribable. That’s the example I seek to follow. :slight_smile:

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