What is Bhava (becoming)?

Hi @anon85245511, I don’t know where you got this understanding from. You may benefit from contacting moderators to understand better the rules.

Beside that, if you read the link I posted you will learn that the concept of antarabhava is found in the Pali Nikayas.

It does even have a placeholder for fruition of awakening taking place in that gap state, it is the case of antarāparinibbāyī, as found in SN46.3, AN7.55.



Its been quite sometimes but forgotten where i read it but sort of .
That’s why i didnt read link you posted . Anyway thanks .

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Hello Ven. @Amatabhani

In your post above, you noted:

And your later post:

Given the distinction between continuation via deeds vs. continuation via rebirth, would it be fair to interpret bhava as being the mental conditioning that results from clinging and hence further inclines the mind toward craving in this very life? So from a practical perspective, bhava reflects the deepening of ignorance and self-views?

The reason I ask, sir, is that I am trying to compre the EBTs to my own practice. I work to weaken self-views and craving by labelling every unwholesome distraction as “dangerous, not me, not mine”, and then releasing the clinging to the phenomenon.

When I get this right, these phenomena fade away and do not reappear, i.e., cessation. So I have rather come to the conclusion that it is clinging that makes phenomena seem “solid” and persist through time. When craving ends, by abandoning self-views, clinging ends. And when clinging ends the unwholesome phenomena do not reappear. So from a practical perspective, it seems to me practically speaking that the bhava through deeds is the kamma (resulting from clinging) that causes phenomena to reappear in this life.

I would love you thoughts on this!

With much metta,


Greetings Gene :slight_smile: You are correct in that this forum is for the discussion of EBT’s, but in order to bring out understanding, other source materials are sometimes used. The point of note is that other texts are used to highlight and clarify points related to the EBT’s, and not discussed in their own right. I hope this clarifies things. :pray:


In the first post I explained the bhava (kammabhava) which can be found as an element of dependant origination. As bhante Sujato explained, the basic meaning of bhava is “existence” or “life”. Which is the second type of bhava (uppattibhava) explained in Paṭiccasamuppādavibhaṅga (2nd post).

Here is not a place to discuss about practice and personal experiences. So let’s stick to thefacts from the texts.

If we are to connect self-view and dependant origination, Dependant origination is the middle way to explain the existance of beings without jumping to two extremes.

In a way it is correct to interpret likewise. Craving is an element of dependant origination. When there is no craving tge circle brakes. When it brakes there is no bhava (both types) (SN12.35).
And when a person realizes the truth(arahant), he still lives but without craving or volitional formations (sankhāra), there is no formation of new kamma. His existence after realization is due to pubbakamma (old deeds); as a result of old deeds.

I am not sure what you are implying here as deepening, but it is certain that bhava arises due to ignorance, or one can say due to craving (taṇhā). Self-view is a part of ignorance (Avijjānīvaraṇa).

Self-view is explaind in SN 22.93, and that is 20 fold.


It’s the age old question ‘why are we here?’ or better yet ‘how are we here?’.

The meaning of life, or the answer to the question: “What is the meaning of life?”, pertains to the significance of living or existence in general. Many other related questions include: “Why are we here?”, “What is life all about?”, or “What is the purpose of existence?” There have been many proposed answers to these questions from many different cultural and ideological backgrounds. The search for life’s meaning has produced much philosophical, scientific, theological, and metaphysical speculation throughout history. Different people and cultures believe different things for the answer to this question.


The way I see it. After death if you still have attachment for the five khandas or the six sense spheres you’ll take up(upadaya) a new birth in other words. Your desire or anger; felt and impassioned by oneself in this life that you crave in this life with continue in the next life

Peter Harvey also translates bhava as becoming, I wonder where this error comes from? :thinking:

In “The Selfless Mind: Personality, Consciousness and Nirvana in Early Buddhism”:

  • p.5

  • p.97

  • p.159

Although he also seems to translate it into existence in other cases as well:

  • p.98


It’s an old mistake that stems from the bad old days of the PTS.

The problem is that people read the interpretation into the meaning of the word. The word bhava is felt as a good thing, something to aspire to. “New life! More existence! Great, let’s make an aspiration to have more bhava!”

Obviously people didn’t mean “becoming”, they meant “life, continuation, eternal existence”. That’s the meaning of the word, the place it is coming from.

Then the Buddha comes along, ever the killjoy, and says, “That thing you take to be eternal existence and new life? That’s just as bad as here! It’s only more change and suffering, driven by your deluded belief that somehow, somewhere, there is a perfect world. Well, there ain’t, so deal with it!”

I mean, I’m paraphrasing but you get my drift. :pray:

This is a systematic problem with Buddhist translation, and exegesis in general. People interpret words according to the dogmatic meaning that Buddhists of later generations gave them. But the Buddha was responding to how the people of his time used words. He’s engaging in a dialectical process, which is subtly obscured if you simply translate according to the dogmatic meaning.


You say it’s wrong simply because in English “becoming” is usually uncountable noun and in Pāli it’s countable?

Dictionaries I use say that “becoming” as “the process of coming to be something or of passing into a state” can be used also as countable noun and they give examples of such usage.

If accountability is not the main issue (and only a stylistical problem for a translator), then what’s wrong with the definition of “becoming”? I can’t see how it’s a “mistake” to use it as a translation for “bhava” - it fits the analogy of the seed, field and moisture given in the texts.


Thank you Bhante! , ‘bhava’ simply as existence in the English sense of the word doesn’t make much sense to me without some mechanism to keep one in the cycle of birth and death as it were. But wouldn’t the above definition be applicable to sankhara as well? What is the difference in meaning between sankhara and bhava?

Just sharing some thoughts; existence is forming kamma and experiencing results, experiencing results forming kamma…
It’s like a runaway jet engine that burns the fuel which drives the turbine which in turn drives the compressor to compress and burn the fuel…
When the fuel is cut off engine stops. It will freewheel until eventually coming to a complete stop.

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@Amatabhani, Thank you so much for helping to clear up bhava for me. I still need a little clarification.

In the first 9 links of the 12 link model of DO there are several links which appear to be processes of sorts, primarily mental processes, if you will.


The next link, bhava, in the context of DO, seems to be a process of action that the Buddha describes in AN 3.76 that you’ve quoted.

So if each link of the 12 link model gives rise to the next, eventually tanhā arises and is grasped (upādāna). At that point the process of bhava takes place, the formation of kamma, more of a volitional action. Craving is present and deeds are committed.

I’m confused in what the sutta words as “consciousness” (viññāṇaṃ bījaṃ) as being the seedling within bhava and how you described the entire process of bhava as the seedling.

Can you shed more light on to viññāṇaṃ bījaṃ and how it works within bhava?

Thank you!

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Viññāṇa - Dhamma Wheel

maybe this link can help…


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I think there is some thing that is implied in AN3.76 and is specifically mentioned in a number of other suttas. That is the growth of the seed.

You might like to take a look at AN3.34and this topic discussing this sutta.

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Upādāna paccayā bhavo
Grasping is a condition for continued existence

When grasping (upādāna) started to grow there is another thing grows with it called bhava.
The the aggregates appear in one of the three types of places due to bad deeds or good deeds is called uppattibhava. Here bad or good deeds are called kammabhava.

When all three consciousness, karma, and craving come together it creates upattibhava (the seedling).

Why kamma is the field?
A life is a sum of good and bad deeds, there are countless number of potential deeds at the end of the life that can give rise to the next birth. when there is no kamma there is no field to plant the consciousness.

That is why the Buddha raise the question in the begining

If, Ānanda, there were no deeds to result in the sensual realm, would continued existence in the sensual realm still come about?”

And craving is the moisture to put them together. When there is no moisture no way of connecting to the field and absorb minerals, no swelling of the seed, sprouting odoes not trigger. When there is craving over a realm (existence) the being plants his consciousness in another realm or a field(kamma). When there is no moisture, a seed cannot sprout in a field (as arahants (perfected ones)). They have number of kamma before the perfection which has the potential to give another birth but when there is no craving the seed cannot sprout, no another birth. And when there is no craving the cycle of Dependant Origination breaks, and therefore arising of consciousness does not occur. That is why Ratanasutta states arahants as khīṇabījā.


Thank you all for such a wonderful thread. What was said here really opened up things for me.


No, I don’t think that was said, but I am merely a reader of the thread. What that was as I recall was one reason given. Ven Sujato said it is wrong because bhava does not mean “becoming.” Even Ven Bodhi has abandoned that translation choice.

Bhavati/hoti can have an extra sense in addition to being synonymous with asti, namely it can also mean “to change into.” Because of this, some in the past have wanted to call it “becoming” instead of “existence,” which is what the word most often means.

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